The BC SPCA is calling on Canadians to voice their opinions on proposed amendments to the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs. National farm codes, developed by multi-stakeholder committees, are updated every 10 years, with an interim review conducted after five years. This week, a code technical panel reviewing the 2014 Pig Code issued a report proposing several amendments to the code, including a five-year extension for the pork industry to transition gestating mother pigs to group housing, due to COVID-19 and other challenges. The panel’s proposed amendments are open for public comment until Nov. 19, 2020.
Humane Canada, the national voice representing SPCAs and other humane organizations across Canada on code development, advocated strongly for an end to confinement housing for pigs and an expeditious transition to group housing. One third of sows in Canada are now housed in groups, demonstrating an important step forward for their welfare. However, two-thirds of farms have yet to make these changes.
The BC SPCA urges that:
- Farmers convert to group housing immediately, so that sows can be freed from the narrow stalls that confine them;
- Farmers commit themselves to learning the new animal management skills required for group housing, recognizing that a generation of animal care skills has been lost while farms have been using stalls;
- The Canadian Pork Council meet its obligation to report on its progress annually and on farm compliance with the Codes of Practice overall;
- The loophole allowing farmers to continue keeping their pigs in stalls simply by providing “periodic exercise” be eliminated;
- Government provide financial support to accelerate the transition to more humane and sustainable farming systems. This should be part of Canada’s green economic recovery;
- Canada’s grocery retailers, who committed as a block to sourcing fresh pork products from sows raised in groups by the end of 2022, honour their commitment.
The BC SPCA is also calling for the creation of an independent, third-party inspection and auditing system for B.C. farms to ensure the Codes of Practice, currently self-regulated by industry, are upheld and implemented.
We encourage all Canadians to express their views during the public comment period on the Pig Code.