Officials say the Animal Care Program meets consumers’ demand for increased accountability to ensure livestock are properly cared for
Chicken producers in Manitoba are about to see more comprehensive audits of their farms as the result of a nationwide Animal Care Program.
But for most chicken producers, the program won’t change how they raise their birds.
“We’ve been managing the animal care on an informal basis up until now,” said Jake Wiebe, chairman of Manitoba Chicken Producers. “Now we are just formalizing it and making it a national program.”
The Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) signed on to the program at its recent summer meeting in Winnipeg with a memorandum of understanding setting out the division of roles and responsibilities between it and provincial chicken boards.
Similar in some respects to the On-Farm Food Safety Program, Wiebe said audits for both programs will occur simultaneously on farms in Manitoba.
The majority of chicken producers in the province already meet the program’s standards of care, but will now go through on-farm audits, he said.
“We have had paper audits that said compliance was taking place, so now we will verify that with the on-farm audit,” Wiebe said.
One of the program’s goals is to allow for the national promotion of Canadian chicken as a certified product when it comes to animal care.
“We’re realizing more and more that the consumer is looking for assurances that… the animals are being cared for and that there is a verified standard in place,” said Wiebe.
Many Canadian chicken farmers have already achieved Animal Care Program certification and two provinces — Alberta and Prince Edward Island — have already achieved 100 per cent certification.
Using more than $70,000 in federal funding announced last month, CFC will also conduct an audit of its on-farm food safety system allowing the organization to proceed to the final stage of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s On-Farm Food Safety Recognition Program. This national program follows the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points principles to ensure potential food safety problems are caught before products leave the farm gate.
“We are committed to food safety and growing the quality Canadian chicken that consumers can trust,” said Dave Janzen, CFC chairman. “As a leader in on-farm food safety programming, Chicken Farmers of Canada is proud to be the first commodity to pilot the final steps of the recognition program and provide lessons learned for other commodities.”
His organization will likely be the first to achieve full recognition by this program, he added.
The program is supported by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Further Poultry Processors Council, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.