The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle was published in 2009 by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). It provides guidance to all dairy farmers in Canada and anyone else who cares for dairy cattle. The major sections of the Code are housing, feed, management, pre-transportation preparations, euthanasia and other husbandry practices.
The Code sets the requirements for practices that are deemed acceptable and determines which practices are not acceptable. It also provides recommendations on continuous improvement goals. The requirements and recommendations presented in the Code are mostly qualitative. This document is also the cornerstone of all requirements in the animal care module of our proAction program. The Code is so important that even the Animal Welfare and Safety Act of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec refers to it.
The NFACC normally revises its practice codes at least every five years and reviews them at least every 10 years. The revision of our Code began in January 2019. A Code Development Committee (CDC) was formed of representatives from different backgrounds, including producers, civil servants, experts, researchers, specialists and veterinarians. A Scientists’ Committee was also created in parallel to conduct and present a literature review to the CDC in order to help it with the revision of recommended on-farm practices.
It is essential that we take the time to look at the changes, understand the consequences for our respective farms, and make constructive comments during the consultation period.
The result of the revision work is presented to members of the public, who have 60 days to share their comments on it, in this case from November 29, 2021 to January 27, 2022. Everyone is invited to share their views. For the last edition of the Code, in 2009, just over 100 respondents participated in the consultation. But in recent years, we notice that larger numbers of people are participating in public consultations. For example, in 2014, when the pork production code was being revised, over 4,700 people participated in the consultation, mainly members of the general public and animal rights organizations.
The changes made in the Code will directly impact our farms and daily herd management. It is essential that we take the time to look at the changes, understand the consequences for our respective farms, and make constructive comments during the consultation period. This is our only opportunity to influence the new practices, because all contributions and opinions received will be reviewed by the CDC when it selects the final requirements for the Code. All milk producers are encouraged to participate in the consultation, but also employees, families, advisors, representatives, partners and other members of the dairy industry. We must keep in mind that the requirements will apply to all producers.
Several tools will be created to explain the main changes to you. A webinar will be presented by Les Producteurs de lait du Québec and Lactanet on December 3. For those of you who will not be able to attend it live, a recorded version of this webinar will remain available to you on the U+ platform of the Union des producteurs agricoles. Information meetings will also be held in all regions. Do not hesitate to check your extranet regularly or contact your secretary or your region’s elected officials to learn more about the various planned activities. The animal care requirements that will be included in the new Code of Practice must be appropriate and fair to ensure sound management of our dairy herds. Speak out and participate in large numbers!
Given society’s higher expectations of our sector, it is highly likely that this year’s consultation will draw even more respondents. Therefore, it is essential for milk producers’ voices to be heard and for their expertise to be put to good use. The public comment period, which runs from November 29, 2021 to January 27, 2022, is a critical step in creating a solid Code of Practice. I encourage all producers to participate in it and share their views.
Daniel Gobeil, chairman
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