Q&A on Public Comment Periods

Q: What is the role of the Public Comment Period?

A: The Public Comment Period ensures everyone has the opportunity to have their say. It also has a critical role in supporting robust final discussions on any revisions needed before the Code is finalized.

The Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals serve as Canada’s national understanding on animal care requirements and recommendations. This is something many people, from farmers to consumers, have an interest in. It is important that anyone who wishes to have a voice in this process has that opportunity. The Public Comment Period is an important way to allow this and facilitate valuable feedback that supports the Code development process.

It’s important to note that individuals can contribute their viewpoints to the process prior to the Public Comment Period; through industry associations and other organizations that represent them and have a seat at the Code development table. 

Q: How does Canada’s approach to public input on farm animal care compare to other countries?

A: Through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), Canada has a national approach to farm animal care that is based on a model of multi-stakeholder participation and consensus-based decision-making. This unique approach has many advantages and may be a model for other countries. 

The Public Comment period is one way that multi-stakeholder participation is supported in the development of Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals. Comments are encouraged from anyone who wishes to add their voice to the discussion and have their viewpoints considered in the Code development process. This supports a robust process and helps the Codes achieve an effective balance that reflects multi-stakeholder interests and priorities. 

Q: Why does the Public Comment Period have a 60 day timeframe? 

A: The 60-day period balances the need to ensure stakeholders have time to provide quality feedback while maintaining an efficient and manageable process.

Q: Who can participate in the Public Comment Periods for Codes of Practice?

Everyone. The opportunity to participate in the Public Comment Period for each Code is open to anyone with an interest in supporting this country as a leader in farm animal care as part of a well-managed and competitive food system.

Q: How is my privacy protected when I participate in the Public Comment Period?

A: Individual names and contact information are not provided to the Code Development Committee or shared publicly. However, you are required to enter your name and email address. This helps to ensure the integrity of the information. It also provides NFACC with a way to contact the person providing the feedback if there is a question about their submission.

When official submissions are made on behalf of an organization, the name of the organization is identified along with the information submitted when it is provided to the Code Development Committee. This recognizes the particular expertise that an organization may have, along with the rigorous process that some organizations would have undertaken to arrive at a collective submission amongst their membership. However, this information is not made public by NFACC.

If you have specific concerns related to privacy, please contact NFACC directly for more information. 

Q: Is my viewpoint heard in the Public Comment Period and do I have an influence?

A: Absolutely. Every submission is reviewed and considered as part of the deliberations of the Code Development Committee.

The comments received on some sections of a draft Code can be substantial and convey a wide spectrum of perspectives. All comments are considered within the context of the Code Development Committee’s discussions that led to the original draft Code, as well as all the other feedback submitted. 

Q: How are people made aware of the Public Comment Period?

A: A press release announcing the Public Comment period is distributed to media, industry, the broad spectrum of organizations involved with NFACC, and to a range of additional stakeholder communications outlets and channels. In turn, these outlets further cast the message amongst their readers and stakeholders. A reminder is also issued to announce the impending close of a Public Comment Period.

NFACC works closely with media, industry and other communications outlets throughout all stages of the process, to support coverage of Code development activity including awareness of the timing of Public Comment Periods and how to participate.

NFACC’s website (www.nfacc.ca) provides the latest information on NFACC’s activities, including work on specific Codes and the various stages of Code development. 

Q: Any tips for providing effective feedback to the Public Comment Period process?

A: While all constructive comments are included in the Code Development Committee’s deliberations, submissions that include alternative wording and references (if applicable) are particularly helpful.

Here are a few tips to consider when developing a submission:

  • Be constructive. Criticism is welcome and valid. But it’s more powerful when it comes with suggested solutions.
  • Tell your story. Committee members are interested in what the Codes mean to real people in the real world. Your personal viewpoint on how the changes will affect you, either positively or negatively, can resonate strongly with the committee.
  • Quality over quantity. Multiple submissions with the same cut and pasted comments can convey a strong message around a particular stakeholder viewpoint and this will be noted by the Code Development Committee. However, the Committee particularly appreciates submissions that help them to resolve differences and arrive at a quality Code.
  • Be polite. Blatant attacking and name calling is not tolerated. There is “zero tolerance” for submissions with profanity.

Everyone involved it the NFACC process comes with the simple goal of helping Canada continually improve. What are your viewpoints that can support that goal?