Changes to laws for farmed animals recommended
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Recommendations to improve the welfare and protections of farmed animals in B.C. presented to Ministry of Agriculture and Food

March 27, 2024

In 2023, the BC SPCA participated in a committee formed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to review and recommend improvements to the farmed animal welfare framework in British Columbia. The committee developed recommendations that touch on training, transportation and processing sectors, along with integrating and prioritizing farmed animals in emergency response. They also recognized an opportunity to better support farmed animal protection by creating a new, government-funded inspection and enforcement function to assume oversight of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act with respect to farmed animals. The recommendations have been submitted to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food for review.

Two dairy cows are eating in a free stall barn with a farmer pushing up feed in the background. The recommendations have been submitted to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food for review

“For many years, the BC SPCA has called on the government to conduct a review of B.C.’s farmed animal laws and practices to ensure the safe, humane treatment of farmed animals while still supporting the viability of B.C.’s farming industry,” explains Marcie Moriarty, Chief Protection and Outreach Services with the BC SPCA. “The BC SPCA is wholly supportive of the committee’s recommendations, provided they are read in totality and actioned collaboratively, and we firmly believe that a well-funded, proactive inspection system is critical for better animal welfare across all agricultural sectors involving animals.”

Moriarty also stresses the importance of accountability and transparency in reporting if the recommendations are accepted and a new inspection and enforcement entity is established. “For a well-executed system to parallel the level of expertise that the BC SPCA has provided for decades, a critical component of this system must be a strong reporting and accountability structure. We are eager to work with the provincial government and other Committee members on the development and implementation of this system.”

Currently, the BC SPCA dedicates approximately 20 per cent of the organization’s enforcement efforts to complaints received about farmed animal activities, which include hobby farms and equines. A new function overseeing commercial farm inspections and enforcement would allow the BC SPCA to shift its focus to be stronger advocates for farmed animals and to further explore recommendations to improve farmed animal welfare laws, without being in an alleged position of conflict with industry.

Although the recommendations made by the Committee require extensive cross-ministerial and industry collaboration which will take time to both evaluate and implement, the BC SPCA is grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for making these important assessments on behalf of the province’s farmed animals.