Farmers Forum staff
TORONTO — The 2020 law governing Ontario’s animal police needs to be changed to treat farm livestock differently from house pets, according to one of 17 resolutions passed at the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) 2023 annual general meeting.
The approved resolution calls for a “segregated part of the act written for livestock to recognize them as a separate entity to that of a domestic pet.” The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act currently draws “no formal separation” between commercial livestock and other animals.
It’s the fourth resolution targeting PAWS in two years. The latest intervention follows a PAWS raid at an Ontario beef farm in December 2021. Just over 100 animals were removed from farmer Walter Ray’s property north of Peterborough, an action that’s still tied up in legal wrangling. Ray was never charged with any offence, but PAWS continues to pursue him for hundreds of thousands of dollars in boarding costs the agency incurred by placing his animals at foster farms, as if they were pet ponies. Supporters say the cattle could have gone straight to market as beef animals that were in good condition, with the proceeds of sale rendered to Ray immediately.
Also related to animal welfare, members voted in favour of exempting livestock haulers from a new Transport Canada rule that requires them to use electronic log books. As of Jan. 1st, the technology rigidly enforces a 13-hour daily driving limit for truckers, with no leeway for the livestock aboard. The animals “can be within minutes from their destination and the driver has to pull over to avoid log book infractions and fines from the Ministry of Transportation,” the motion notes, adding the problem is compounded by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s lowering of the time that animals are permitted to be in transit. The exemption would bring Canada in line with the United States, which allows truckers to proceed beyond their hours of service limit if within 240 km of the animals’ destination.
Other resolutions approved include:
• That BFO lobby the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to accept the computerized record of a cow’s age at time of slaughter at a federal processing plant. The CFIA still insists on doing a dental check of animals to verify age “thus adding to the cost for abattoirs and farmers,” according to BFO.
• That BFO lobby the federal government to maintain higher interest-free limits in the Advanced Payments Program. The program currently offers zero-interest cash advances of up to $250,000, after a “temporary” increase in the limit from $100,000 in June 2022. Advances are repaid as farmers sell their cattle, up to 24 months after receipt of the money.
• That BFO lobby the province to release previously patented Crown land for agricultural production.
• That BFO lobby the province to put agricultural production into the Ontario education curriculum used in Ontario classrooms.
• That BFO work with the bovine veterinarian community and government to reinstitute and encourage industry wide practical training of beef producers through Quality Assurance and other programs. This resolution was inspired by the end of The Ontario Livestock Medicines Education Program, a one-day course offered until several years ago.
• That BFO advocate for lower property taxes on long-term pasture land, specifically that it get the same lower property-tax rate (25 % of residential) as forested land.
• That BFO address the problem of poor ear-tag retention with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency and the tag manufacturers. The resolution asserts that cattle traceability in Canada is “not effective nor accurate” because they too easily lose their ear tags.
• That BFO work with other livestock groups to expand Agricorp’s crop insurance program to cover double-cropping — growing a grain or oilseed after an overwintered cover crop.
• That BFO consider developing a protocol for BFO county chapters wanting to dissolve or amalgamate with their neighbours. The resolution acknowledges that counties with fewer cattle and fewer producers are finding it more difficult to function.
• That BFO work with Meat and Poultry Ontario to have the province recognize rail butchery as a defined skilled trade. A rail butcher handles the full process of dressing an animal, from slaughter down to the smallest retail cuts.
• That BFO pursue the province and College of Veterinarians to look at implementing Virtual Telemedicine and Assessment Centres as a way of dealing with the shortage of veterinarians available to treat livestock. It’s a telemedicine model used successfully in regular medical practice during the pandemic.
• That BFO take a strong stand against the destruction of prime agricultural land.
• That BFO work with those interested in operating the Joyceville Institution abattoir to lobby Ottawa for the reopening of that facility.
• That BFO investigate why the Joyceville Institution abattoir hasn’t been tendered out and reopened — despite a severe shortage of provincially inspected abattoirs in Ontario and the fact that several operators have expressed interest.
• That BFO advocate that federal carbon tax money go into the protection of pastureland.
• That BFO and other livestock groups inform the federal government about “all the benefits agriculture provides to carbon sequestering, and more specifically the advantages of cattle that require pasture lands, hay, cover crops, and year-round green cover on land which has such positive effects on the environment and positive carbon sequestering.”