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Veal code of practice out for comment

Animal Welfare: News Roundup from the November 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The committee working on updating Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle is on target to publish a draft following its seventh and final meeting in late October. A start date for the 60-day public comment period will be announced some time afterward by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and Canadian Veal Association.

The comment period is an important part of the code of practice process. Up to this point the updating of the code is the culmination of consultations with researchers and a wide swath of stakeholders within the sector. This will be the first time the wider public has a chance to review and comment on the recommended practices for veal production put forward in the modernized code.

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When the NFACC first used this process to update the dairy cattle code of practice it received approximately 120 comments that had to be reviewed and considered before the draft code was finalized and released in 2009.

The draft beef code received approximately 400 comments from industry sources and the public for consideration before it was finalized in 2013. Updated codes for several other species were released that same year. Some 600 comments came in for the equine code and 200 for mink. The draft code for pig production drew a whopping 4,700 comments during its session, which was finalized and released in 2014.

The NFACC’s website says anyone with an interest in farm animal care as a part of a well-managed and competitive food system is invited to provide feedback on the draft veal cattle code of practice. The draft will be posted on the NFACC website when it’s approved.

Public input does influence the direction of the final document. The comments are first put into orderly fashion and circulated to the code development committee members in preparation for discussions to reach a consensus on any further changes at full committee meetings. The time between the end of the comment period and release of the final version largely depends on the number of comments received and number of meetings needed to reach consensus. The final version of the veal cattle code is expected to be out in fall 2017.

The code development committee with broad stakeholder representation and the scientific committee struck specifically for the veal code update first met in March 2015 to decide on priority welfare issues that would require a review of the scientific literature. The key issues identified were housing (facilities), fibre, risk factors for abomasal damage, milk feeding, and management strategies to reduce the risk of welfare issues associated with iron deficiency anemia. The peer-reviewed scientific report will be published with the draft code.

Progress reports on the meetings and insight into the process for updating codes as well as the codes themselves can be found at nfacc.ca.

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