In Canada each year, approximately 700 million farm animals are transported from farm to auction or slaughter. Approximately 1.6 million of these animals, mostly chickens, are found dead on arrival. Many more arrive sick or injured following their long, grueling journeys and need to be euthanized.
It wasn’t always this way. Farm animals used to be bred, born and slaughtered close to the farms on which they were raised. But, in recent years, the food processing industry has become more centralized, fueled by public demand for cheaper food, resulting in longer trips to slaughter.
The costs of making improvements to transport conditions for farm animals must be partly shouldered by consumers of the food. If Canadians want food that is produced humanely, then they must be willing to shift more of their household expenditures towards their grocery bill to help cover the costs of farmers and transporters providing better welfare for their animals.
Why improve transport?
Transportation is the most alien and stressful experience that a farm animal will have in its lifetime. The longer and harder this experience is, the more risk there is of stress-induced illness, injury and death. These animals deserve more dignity and care – just because they are headed to slaughter does not mean we should allow them to suffer while they are still alive. All animals must be given the utmost protection, regardless of their circumstances.
In December 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released Canada's new draft transport regulations. After more than 10 years of pushing for an overhaul of our inadequate and irresponsible regulations, CFHS is disappointed to report that the proposed changes don't go nearly far enough.
In 2016, CFHS and our member BC SPCA teamed up to publish a report outlining our key recommendations on improving the current animal transportation regulations. Read the report here.
Our current transportation regulations
Canada’s current animal transport regulations are decades old and inadequate by modern standards. They allow cattle and sheep to be transported for up to 52 hours continuously with no food, water or rest. Pigs, horses and birds can be transported for up to 36 hours. And there is no requirement for animal transporters to have any training on how to handle animals humanely or to drive safely with them on board.
In comparison, in the European Union, most species are not permitted to be transported for longer than 8 hours, unless transporters meet several conditions that preserve animal welfare on longer trips. Regulations that set out maximum loading densities to prevent overcrowding are strictly enforced.
Ramping up enforcement
Regulations are only as strong as their enforcement. In addition to stronger regulations, we also need effective and consistent enforcement to ensure that farm animals are receiving the best possible protection throughout the transport process. Otherwise, we are trusting industries to regulate themselves.
If you believe that Canada's farm animals deserve better protections, please contact CFIA and the Minister of Agriculture today to tell them to immediately and adequately update Canada's animal transportation regulations.
Dr. Cornelius F. Kiley
National Manager, Animal Welfare
Biosecurity and Assurance Programs Section
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
59 Camelot Drive, 3rd Floor East, Room 231
Telephone: (613) 773-7028
Fax: (613) 773-7567
Minister of Agriculture
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan)
House of Commons
Telephone: (613) 995-9325
Fax: (613) 995-2754
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