Update on the Code development process and the status of the Code for egg-laying hens (layer Code)

April 29, 2016 - The process for developing farm animal care Codes of Practice is led by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), which includes farmers, animal welfare advocates, food company representatives, veterinarians, processors, government officials and others who care deeply about the well-being of farm animals. NFACC’s partners are devoted to supporting real and sustainable improvements in farm animal welfare.

NFACC has received a request for private correspondence and other materials related to the Code development process, specifically regarding the internal deliberations of the layer Code development committee.

The content of the layer Code is still under consideration.

NFACC recognizes and appreciates that a number of individuals and groups are eager to know what standards the Code will specify on hen housing.

In order to create or update a new Code, however, it is necessary to balance confidentiality policies with the need for transparency.  Simply, the building of trust amongst diverse communities that would not normally work together requires a great deal of sensitivity and respect.

For this reason, the Code development process provides guidance to support the development of trusting relationships where people can feel comfortable and safe. This guidance includes confidentiality policies and procedures, which are critical to meet our objective of improving the lives of farmed animals.

The specifics on confidentiality can be found at: http://www.nfacc.ca/code-development-process#appendixf.

At the same time, NFACC recognizes that there’s a larger community that deserves information and the opportunity for input. Transparency is critical if the Codes are to be used by farmers and be supported by the public.

The entire Code process itself has always been publicly available at www.nfacc.ca/code-development-process.

Animal welfare is all about the ethics of how we must treat animals. One of the biggest challenges in developing farm animal care Codes of Practice is that there is a variety of views about what constitutes good animal welfare. The Code development process bridges these differences by supporting diverse communities to come together and build consensus. Issues related to animal welfare, understandably, trigger emotion, and NFACC believes that respectful discourse is central to improving the lives of animals. 

The layer Code development committee’s obligation is to focus on the welfare of hens, above all else. A good life for hens fundamentally requires that farmers be able to deliver on those standards. This will no doubt be a challenging balance, given the sensitivities and concerns surrounding animal care practices.

NFACC’s website (www.nfacc.ca) provides regular public updates on the progress of each Code, timeline charts showing where each Code is at in the process and a vehicle for the 60-day public comment period to which every Code is subject for the purpose of engaging broader input. NFACC responds to every inquiry from concerned members of the public.

More general communications guidelines are available at http://www.nfacc.ca/code-development-process#appendixG and http://www.nfacc.ca/code-development-process#appendixH.

The layer Code development committee is meeting in early May and aims to resolve final outstanding issues. All parties look forward to the release of the draft layer Code for broader input through the public comment period.

As general manager of NFACC, I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Code development committee who have devoted themselves to updating the layer Code. They exemplify respectful discourse, passionate devotion to hen welfare, perseverance under challenging circumstances and a real commitment to doing the right thing and doing it right.


Jackie Wepruk

NFACC General Manager


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