Codes of Practice & Assurance Programs
Beef Cattle Code of Practice
In 1980, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies began coordinating the process of developing Codes of Practice for all livestock species. In 1991, the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Animals – Beef Cattle was developed.
Since 2005, the responsibility for developing and revising Canada’s Codes of Practice has fallen under the mandate of the National Farm Animal Care Council (www.nfacc.ca). This revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was updated through a similar consultation and review process, by a committee representing a wide range of stakeholders (Appendix H), according to the Code development process developed by NFACC (www.nfacc.ca/code-development-process).
The Canadian beef industry involves seed stock and cow-calf producers, backgrounding and feedlot operations, transporters, sale yards and assembly stations, veterinarians, and packing plants operating under diverse climatic and geographical conditions. Cattle care is practiced all along the production chain and the well-being of beef cattle can be safeguarded under a variety of husbandry and management systems.
Verified Beef Production
Verified Beef Production (VBP) is Canada’s verified on-farm food safety program for
beef—a dynamic program to uphold consumer confidence in the products and good
practices of this country’s beef producers.
Beef producers already have a reputation for acting responsibly, but VBP takes that to a new level. Grassroots driven and industry-led, the program is part of a broad effort by Canada’s food providers to ensure on-farm food safety.
It is based on the principles of an international quality control program used widely in many industries, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which has been specifically adapted for VBP.
The overall result is stronger competitiveness for Canada’s beef industry, as food safety continues to grow as a major factor in consumer buying decisions.
Benefits for Beef Producers
A VBP-registered operation provides immediate and long-term benefits for Canadian beef producers such as:
- Proof of responsible actions
- Improve awareness of food safety risks
- Readiness should market require it
- Improved use of animal health products
- Optional: authenticity of third party audit
- Take credit for what you are doing
- Tool to develop branded products
- Basis for training staff/family members
- Satisfaction of doing things right
- VBP program is recognized by Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Benefits for the Beef Industry
The success of Canada’s beef industry depends on consumer confidence worldwide. VBP helps the industry achieve that in several ways:
- Defining standards for the safety, quality and consistency of Canadian beef and beef products
- Building potential to increase market share, domestically and internationally
- Helping to minimize costly product recalls
- VBP complements food safety programs beyond the farm gate
- Providing a tool to develop market alliances, which may improve economic returns, within the agriculture and processing sectors
- Enhancing quality improvement and crisis management abilities
Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) has long recognized the importance of investments in research and innovation to the long-term sustainability of the beef industry.
During the consultations on Growing Forward 2 (GF2), MBP
lobbied for increased investments in research and innovation. To be competitive internationally, the beef industry needs ongoing research in areas such as feed, nutrition, genetics, and animal health and welfare, to name a few.
Manitoba beef producers’ check-off dollars help fund a broad range of industry-related research work being undertaken at institutions like the University of Manitoba. MBP research funding contributions are often leveraged by researchers to secure additional sources of project funding, multiplying the benefits to producers and the beef industry.
MBP also works with other industry organizations like the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and the Manitoba Pork Council to pursue research in areas of mutual interest such as the environment or animal health.
Additionally, MBP is working with research partners in other provinces and nationally, such as the Beef Cattle Research Council, to better co-ordinate research projects. This will help limit the possibility of duplication thereby making the most effective use of research dollars.
Finding ways to improve herd health and on-farm productivity are important aspects of research. It is essential that work undertaken in the lab or in the field is converted into tools that primary producers can use on their farms.
Examples of research projects in which MBP has been involved with include bovine tuberculosis testing, the fertilizer equivalence of manure, residual feed intake, farm management strategies in the Canadian beef sector, and developing a strategy for forage and grassland management in Manitoba through an examination of the multi-functionality of forages.
An equally important function of research relates to the development of public policy. It is MBP’s belief that sound science must shape public policy, not public opinion. It is critical that legislators and policy makers have access to current science-based research when policies are being developed or modified that could impact the beef sector for many years.
Finally, governments are accountable to taxpayers when it comes to how public money is spent. They are seeking deliverables when they make investments in initiatives like EG&S programming. Research funded by MBP can show the value for money when public dollars are invested in various programs.
Importance of Biosecurity
Beef producers have the responsibility to prevent and mitigate diseases from entering or spreading to operations that contain livestock.
Biosecurity is an important on-farm practice for beef producers to use on an ongoing basis. Biosecurity provides the tools necessary to manage and minimize animal movement risks (e.g. commingling and high risk susceptible animals), manage the movement of people and equipment, manage animal health practices such as nutrient management, and educate and document the activities of the operation.
Biosecurity is emerging as one of the most important issues facing trade and the international business community. There is a growing need for countries to establish biosecurity systems, either to meet obligations under international agreements (for example, in the environmental sector) or to take advantage of opportunities (for example, in the trade sector). Implementing biosecurity practices in the beef sector is a long-term approach that will require changes to on-farm behavior but will provide long-term benefits for both producers and consumers in terms of reduced disease incidents.