Code Development Process
Code of Practice Guidelines
The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of the different species of farm animals. The Codes contain recommendations for housing and management practices for farm animals as well as transportation, processing and other acceptable animal husbandry practices.
The Codes are intended to promote sound management and welfare practices. The Codes contain recommendations to assist farmers and others in the agriculture and food sector to compare and improve their own management practices. It should be noted, however, that Codes have been accepted as the standard of practice and have been recognized as such by some courts.
Initiation of Code development and revision remain the responsibility of the individual commodity. The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) will keep a record of Code revisions and provide encouragement to commodities to do revisions on an ongoing basis. Review and revision of Codes should occur regularly or as production practices, or our body of knowledge, changes through experience or research. Changes in government policy and international agreements on animal welfare guidelines could also have an impact on the Codes.
NFACC recommends and supports the development and maintenance of animal welfare verification programs, which will be the responsibility of individual commodity organizations. Codes will form the basis of verification programs.
All commodities should develop or revise their Codes in accordance with these guiding principles. NFACC will support Codes of Practice that follow these guidelines and the NFACC Code development process. NFACC’s will facilitate an overall Code development process by ensuring that coordination and secretariat assistance is available for Code development.
Code Guiding Principles
- Codes should be based on sound science and other acceptable knowledge sources (peer-reviewed science, industry publications/experience, expert opinion, anecdotal evidence, etc.), referencing those sources wherever possible and providing a rationale for recommendations. Recommended practices should be defensible and changed as new and improved information is brought forward. In addition, recommended practices should be practical, manageable and consider the economic impact of any recommendation.
- Codes should be clearly articulated to ensure easy understanding by all users. The layout and design of Codes should facilitate an understanding of basic acceptable practices (must’s) and recommendations that promote a higher level of care (should’s).
- Codes should primarily deal with the criteria that need to be met in order to achieve an acceptable level of animal husbandry. Where there are regulatory requirements the guidelines should contain the word ‘must’, and where there is a clear line between acceptable and unacceptable practices, the term ‘must,’ should also be used. Basic acceptable practices should be clearly worded and have measurable components, recognizing that they may be used in a verification process.
- Codes should also strive for continuous improvement in animal care through recommendations that promote sound management and welfare practices.
- Codes should be regularly reviewed (every 5 years), and revised as needed, to ensure they are current with government policy/regulations, industry practices and scientific research.
- Codes should take into consideration other standards or Codes that may have implications for Canadian producers, in order to promote the continued sustainability of Canadian animal agriculture.
- The Codes should avoid redundancy and aim to be consistent where there may be overlap (i.e., transportation Code and species specific sections on transport within a Code).
- Following the development of a Code, animal welfare research needs identified within the code development process should be compiled and submitted to an appropriate funding body for consideration. Research needs should be tracked to determine if efforts were made to address them prior to the next update of a Code.
- All Codes should be publicly available.
- Some critical issues should be addressed in the Codes for each species, even if not part of the normal practice of industry (e.g., euthanasia). The following is a list of issues to be included in each Code:
- Accommodation/Housing/Handling Facilities
- Food and Water Management (including young and cull animals/poultry)
- Health (e.g., record keeping, lameness, condition scoring, sick and injured animals)
There should be broad participation of knowledgeable people within an industry in the Code development process. The process should be transparent. The following participants must be involved in the Code development process, where applicable:
- Producer (at least one representative from each production phase)
- Transporter (specialized in the specific species)
- Veterinarian (specialized in the specific species)
- Animal welfare organization
- Animal welfare regulatory enforcement body
- Retail and food service organization
- Agriculture Canada and/or CFIA
- Researcher/academic (Chair of the Scientists’ Committee)
- Technical expertise (e.g., agricultural engineer)
This list is not finite. Other participants may be included if their input would benefit the Code development process within a particular commodity.