By Nathan Stevens
March 9, 2012
Animal welfare is a growing concern for farmers and society. In particular, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is a topic of growing importance to farmers in Ontario. While there is no doubt that animal welfare issues are a serious concern and must be dealt with properly, the approach in Ontario when it comes to farming needs to change.
There are incidents in the rural countryside that are drawing attention. Throughout the last year, there has been a focus on issues in Eastern Ontario. Last week, farmers in Huron County were subject to the OSPCA executing 16 warrants following an investigation into multiple animal cruelty complaints. The investigations resulted in orders being issued related to animal housing and some medical treatment. OSPCA is working with owners on the issues and will follow up. Fortunately, no charges have been laid at this time.
On the political front, MPP Jack MacLaren has put forward a Bill regarding the OSPCA. The Bill aims to change the powers of the OSPCA substantially, including removing their powers to enforce provisions under the Act. According to Farm and Food Care Ontario this move could create the monumental task of training thousands of busy police officers in animal care assessment.
The CFFO believes that a new, made-in-Ontario solution is necessary to adequately balance these concerns in a manner that doesn’t draw unnecessary media attention to an issue. We believe that the vast majority of concerns can be resolved firmly and properly, but done in a quiet manner and with respect between parties. The vast majority of farmers today are professionals who take pride in their work and their animal husbandry practices, but the possibility of irresponsible action exists. As a sector, we must be willing to take responsibility for this and discipline them ourselves.
The approach to animal welfare in this province needs to evolve into something different. There are flashpoints that are drawing serious attention from farmers, and there are efforts on several fronts to develop new solutions. The CFFO recognizes that this is an important issue and we believe the sector needs to come together and provide a new way of handling these issues in Ontario.
Nathan Stevens is the Interim Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website:www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.