Industry association pursuing initiatives to strengthen animal care
The BC Dairy Association supports the decision of the BC Milk Marketing Board to place mandatory conditions of license on Cedar Valley Farms following the Board’s finding of multiple violations of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle at this farm.
BC Dairy’s top priority is to ensure the health and welfare of dairy cattle on an ongoing basis. Based on learnings from this incident, the industry association will be undertaking several initiatives to enhance BC’s framework for animal care.
“Every dairy farmer I know is passionate about the care of their animals, but the actions at Cedar Valley Farms make it clear there is work to be done to ensure the level of care is the same at every farm in the province,” says Holger Schwichtenberg, a dairy farmer and Chair of BC Dairy’s Board of Directors. “Abuse has no place on any farm, and must not be tolerated. The conditions being imposed by the BC Milk Marketing Board are designed to change the culture at this farm, which is critically important, while sending a clear message regarding the expectations for the treatment of animals on all dairy farms in BC.”
The BC Milk Marketing Board has added the following mandatory conditions to the milk production license of Cedar Valley Farms:
- The Board will appoint an independent third-party consultant who will report directly to the board and be tasked with overseeing the management and employees at Cedar Valley Farms. They will be charged with overseeing the cultural change required by the Board to ensure proper animal care at the farm.
- The Board will engage an independent veterinarian to conduct regular herd health audits.
- All employees and management must undertake cattle handling training and sign a cattle care commitment, subject to verification and review.
- All employees and management must undertake animal welfare training, to be conducted by an appointed dairy animal welfare expert as determined by the Board.
All conditions are at the farm’s expense. The farm’s milk production license is being conditionally restored under the terms of this order.
BC Dairy is committed to working with authorities and animal care experts to bring several specific, positive changes forward in the dairy industry:
- BC Dairy will advocate for a prohibition on anyone convicted of criminal animal abuse from ever working on a BC dairy farm.
- BC Dairy will work with animal care experts and other partners to support the adoption of a standardized dairy cattle-handling training program for all on-farm employees, including verification of program completion and signing and renewal of cattle care agreements.
- BC Dairy is committed to working with provincial authorities in the review of the process for farm inspections.
- BC Dairy will advocate for a review of penalties for those found guilty of animal abuse on a farm to ensure they are appropriately strong.
“The national Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle is mandatory for dairy farms in BC,” says Schwichtenberg. “We are looking to make sure, through standardized training programs, that all dairy farmers and their employees are well versed in the requirements of the code and uphold their responsibility to care for their animals accordingly,” says Schwichtenberg.
BC Dairy will continue to support the ongoing BC SPCA investigation of Cedar Valley Farms in any way possible.
About BC Dairy Association
BC Dairy is a not-for-profit association that represents BC’s 470 dairy farmers. The association supports the growth and long-term business success of BC’s dairy farms. BC Dairy represents BC in a strong national dairy system committed to providing Canada with high quality, responsibly farmed, healthy dairy products. BC Dairy takes direction from a Board of elected and appointed dairy producer representatives, and is operated by a staff team.