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Support the CFHS’ and the BC SPCA’s efforts to update the transport regulations! Click on the link below to send us your comments. The CFHS and the BC SPCA will gather supportive messages from coast to coast and send them to the government on your behalf.
Throughout Canada each year, more than 650 million farm animals are transported from farms to auction and slaughter. Between two and three million of them, mostly chickens, are found dead on arrival. Many more arrive sick or injured following their long, grueling journeys.
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, fuelled by public demand for cheaper food, resulting in longer trips for many animals to slaughter.
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.
The Canadian government says it has been working on changes to its regulations for years now, but the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has yet to bring them forward for public comment.
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.