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Legislation won’t solve animal welfare concerns

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

With a federal election just around the corner, politicians are being inundated with voter requests for new legislation in the next Parliamentary session. One that comes up with regular frequency is legislation dealing with animal welfare.  A researcher with the University of Manitoba suggests the legislative approach to addressing public concerns related to the welfare of animals raised for food does not necessarily ensure the welfare of those animals. A viewpoint shared by others.

Dr Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba’s Department of Animal Science, told those attending a farm symposium: Hog and Poultry Days 2010 that the consuming public has increasing expectations about how livestock are raised. She cited the example  that in response to public concerns over the welfare of swine raised for food, several major North American pork processors are in the process of phasing out the use of individual gestation stalls for long-term housing of pregnant sows. Such stalls have been used for more than 50 years to reduce spontaneous abortions and improve individual sow care.  Although it won’t be easy or inexpensive, Connor says by working together it will be possible to identify the best approach for each individual farm and she’s confident those who plan to stay in pig farming will find ways to successfully convert.

Connor says that orchestrated public and activist pressure has also been effective in getting U.S. state legislators to prohibit some forms of confinement housing for pigs and poultry.

A move she and others are questioning.

“Certainly in Canada we don’t have that knowledge that we are close to legislation but it’s something I think that most people would want to avoid because just legislating a ban does not do anything towards ensuring the all important welfare nor certainly the economic viability of an industry,” she told Winnipeg media recently.

Even the infamous Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan agrees. When he was interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press he said that change won’t come merely from legislation. The real answer to how animals should be treated he said, “is bottom up, not top down.”

Until the next BLOG.

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Posted by OFAC on April 7th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Regulations
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