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Farmers told to adhere to new Beef Code of Practises

By Ken Johnston

Two guest speakers at the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association (RRCA) Annual General Meeting Thursday had the same message for producers. “Transparency of activities on the farm is crucial.”
Barry Potter, an Agricultural Development Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, gave a presentation called “How to handle cows the happy way.”
Potter as well as Arden Schneckenburger of Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), both spoke about increased activism forcing farmers to be more transparent with the way they treat cattle. Referring to the recently released Ontario Beef Code of Practises, both said the province has recognized that there is pressure to change the way cattle are treated.
It is now mandatory that cattle producers have a veterinary-client relationship. RRCA member Kim Jo Bliss, said that she has heard from one producer that they do not like having to pay a vet $50 to come to the farm for a visit so that they can get drugs for his cattle.
“Your government pays to have a (large animal) vet here. Show some appreciation for the vet. $50 is not that much.”
Bliss said that those who are opposing the new regulation have said they can get around it by going out of province to Manitoba to buy their meds for their cattle.
“If you don’t want to play ball the government may also look at forcing you to have a vet administer the drugs at a further cost to you,” said Potter.
Potter also emphasized that in this day and age of cell phones being equipped with cameras that people are always watching. That is where being proactive with good practises and transparency are crucial.
The province of Ontario has enlisted the Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) to enforce the new code of practises. With that in mind, BFO has signed a memorandum of understanding with OSPCA to work on any issues that come up.
BFO has also started a Beef Help Line with 20 people, including Bliss, trained to take calls from cattlemen regarding practises on the farm.
Schneckenburger, said with so much outside pressure from both activists and end users such as fast food chains like A & W and McDonalds, wanting cattle to be handled and transported specific ways, BFO members need to step up to the plate and follow the code of practises.
“With recent shows on W5 (CTV) showing undercover footage of farms not following practises correctly, we are working to beef up our public image. The onus is on us to do good,” said Schneckenburger.
While some of the RRCA members may not like the new rules, Potter said, “If you do not do what buyers want the market to sell will become that much smaller.”