As the only SPCA in Canada with a dedicated farm animal welfare program, the BC SPCA has been able to improve the lives of millions of farm animals since we were founded in 1896.
One way we have improved the lives of farm animals was through the SPCA Certified program, a third-party animal welfare assurance program which operated between 2002 and 2020. This program certified farmers who raised their animals to high standards of care set out by the BC SPCA.
SPCA Certified had standards for seven sectors – beef cattle, broiler (meat) chickens, dairy cattle, egg-laying hens, pigs, sheep, and turkeys. SPCA Certified standards offered a way for farmers to distinguish themselves from other farms, demonstrating their commitment to higher welfare for their animals.
Canadian food businesses that served or sold SPCA Certified meats, dairy products and eggs include White Spot restaurants, Real Canadian Superstore, PriceSmart, Save-On Foods, Choices Markets, Marketplace IGA, Thrifty Foods, Whole Foods Market and Urban Fare. Of course, farmers’ markets were also a popular place to find our SPCA Certified farmers and their products.
When SPCA Certified began in 2002, the first farms to join the program raised 120,000 SPCA Certified meat chickens and 207,000 dozen SPCA Certified egg were laid. Since then, millions of farm animals have been raised to SPCA Certified animal welfare standards across Canada.
The BC SPCA is proud that the SPCA Certified program improved welfare on farms in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. We deeply value the committed farmers who raise their animals to a higher standard of welfare and the community of farmers, validators, review panelists, and consumers that the program brought together.
Since we began SPCA Certified, other international third-party animal welfare certification programs have been established. After extensive review, the BC SPCA determined that we can make a bigger impact on farm animal welfare by reducing duplication of animal welfare assurance programs. As such, we are no longer certifying farms under the SPCA Certified program. Instead, we are supporting farms certified by Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership. We encourage consumers to look for these certifications and ask retailers, restaurants, and farmers to use products certified under one of these programs.
The BC SPCA looks forward to this change allowing us to work closely with other certification programs while expanding our work in other important areas for farm animal welfare such as:
- Advocating for policy change by contributing to the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice process.
- BC SPCA staff work with Humane Canada to represent animal welfare on the development of the “Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Goats” and “Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation”
- Advocating for transparency of farms through independent third-party inspections
- Advocating for farm animal welfare during consultations with government
- Communicating about farm animal welfare research to the public
- Continuing to educate about the ways each person’s daily actions can improve welfare for farm animals by helping people find and choose higher-welfare foods
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