“Open your doors, you have nothing to hide!” thundered Temple Grandin to 150 rapt attendees at the first ever BC Farm Animal Care Conference on November 10, 2011.

Temple’s sentiments were echoed throughout the day by numerous other conference presenters committed to ethical practice, transparency and the coordination of industry efforts to confront animal care issues.

A recurring theme throughout the day was that better animal management practices and better returns in agri-businesses are not mutually exclusive.

Minister Don McRae in particular emphasized the connection between sound animal management practices and commercial success, pointing out that “BC products are trusted for taste, quality, production practices and animal health, both domestically and internationally.”

Other presentation topics ranged from a history of industrialization and agricultural intensification, certified livestock transport, and Canada’s codes of practice, culminating in Temple’s lecture on best animal management practices, industry and consumer education, and the need for regulatory clarity.

The conference is part of the larger BC Farm Animal Care Initiative funded by IAF.

The five year project leads and coordinates the province’s farm animal care activities in response to negative publicity created by activists and the mounting pressure against animal-based agriculture to amend practices on the farm.

Through the initiative, BC livestock and poultry producers will have a more unified voice in proactively addressing the public’s farm animal care concerns before they become serious issues.

“The BC Farm Animal Care Initiative,” pork processor Bonnie Windsor noted, “has provided us with credibility and given us a social license. It has and will continue to be a vehicle for us, providing us with support and fostering awareness for consumers and producers alike.”

In addition to the conference, a number of other accomplishments have been achieved under the initiative, such as the production of informational rack cards, the launch of the BC Farm Animal “Care Line” and collaboration with the BC SPCA to respond to reports of farm animal abuse.

The potential that the initiative offers was aptly expressed in Minister McRae’s speech when he emphasized, “A high standard of animal care can benefit everyone.” The BC Farm Animal Care Conference represented an important milestone towards achieving this collective good in BC.

Funding for the BC Farm Animal Care Initiative is provided by the Foundation through former federal adaptation programming. (S0007)