News in a Flash

September - October 2014

Positive changes afoot for farm animals this fall

A number of events in recent weeks point to continued improvements in farm animal welfare. To start, two of the world’s largest companies — Nestlé and Unilever — have announced plans to improve operational processes and policies related to their use of farm animals.

Nestlé has committed to promote animal health and welfare, and eliminate practices which contravene the ‘Five Freedoms’” — the five tenets of animal welfare set down by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE): freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.

The company states it will focus on eliminating:
  • "For cattle: dehorning; tail docking; disbudding and castration without anesthetic and analgesia; veal crates; permanent tethering
  • For pigs: gestation crates; tail docking; surgical castration
  • For poultry and eggs: cage systems, particularly barren battery cages; fast-growing practices
  • For animal production systems in general: our first focus is the responsible use of antibiotics, in line with OIE’s guidance, and the phasing out of the use of growth promoters”  
Unilever is working to improve processes around its use of eggs, and is supporting initiatives such as the commercialization of a new technology that could eliminate the killing of live male chicks in egg hatcheries. Unable to lay eggs, billions of day-old male chicks are killed through maceration (being ground up alive) or by being stuffed into plastic bags and left to suffocate. The new technology would allow hatcheries to determine the sex of the birds while still in the shell and prevent males from hatching. The company also is looking to use alternatives to eggs in its products, and is promoting sustainability through Meatless Monday messaging on product packaging.

Here in Canada, the Government of Quebec has announced plans to step up its animal welfare laws, in part to keep pace with the European Union. Referring to Canada’s efforts to establish trade agreements with the EU, agriculture minister Pierre Paradis has stated that he wants the changes “to go as quickly as possible”. He's also issued a warning: “If you’re not part of this movement, you’re going to be excluded.”

In Ontario, meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recently fined a Kirkton, Ontario dairy farm and truck driver $3,750 for transporting a downer cow. The cow had been picked up from Concrete Holsteins in Kirkton and held overnight on the driver’s property, then transported to the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX) in Waterloo. A veterinarian there who examined the animal determined it was severely compromised and should not have been moved — a decision that, together with the fine, helps send a signal to the farm industry that transporting sick and injured animals is cruel and unacceptable.

We look forward to more improvements in the lives of farm animals, and will continue to keep you posted on them.

Compassion in World Farming

CCFA is proud to add a new member to its coalition: Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). Based in the U.K., with approximately 250,000 supporters worldwide, CIWF is generally regarded as the world’s first and leading farm animal welfare organization. It was founded almost 50 years ago in Hampshire, England by Peter Roberts, described on the CIWF website as “an ordinary man with extraordinary vision”.
Roberts was a dairy farmer who, amidst the surge of post-World War II industrialization, became gravely concerned about the direction farming was taking — and the impact it was having on animals. Their en-masse relocation from pasture and farmyard indoors into cages and stalls prompted Roberts and his wife Anna to take up the cause and, in 1967, establish CIWF.

One of his greatest accomplishments with CIWF was his success in achieving formal recognition of animals as sentient beings by the European Union. Roberts retired in 1991 and passed away in 2006.

Today, CIWF’s supporters are, as stated on the website, “guardians of Peter’s visionary belief; that a society can be judged by the way in which i
t feeds its people and treats its animals. We believe that everyone has the right to healthy food that doesn’t involve cruelty, doesn’t involve suffering and doesn’t destroy our planet.”

CCFA is delighted to welcome Compassion in World Farming into the fold, and we look forward to collaborating further as we work to improve the lives of animals raised for food, both in Canada and beyond it.


The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Avery; 2012) is indeed a passionate account by Jenny Brown of her awakening to the plight of farm animals and her ongoing efforts to help them. The founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, New York, Brown talks frankly about flipping hamburgers as a teenager at McDonald's in small-town Kentucky, then later becoming involved with PETA and embarking on life-changing undercover activism.
She also pulls no punches recounting her experience as a "cancer kid" — a diagnosis that seems to have instilled in her a special empathy for vulnerable creatures in need. 

Balancing the no-nonsense reality with a tell-it-like-it-is honesty and razor-sharp humour (there's a hilarious story about cheerleading with a prosthetic leg), she rounds it all out with a collection of her favourite vegan recipes (including what has to be the world's best and possibly easiest chocolate cake).

Overall, a truly inspiring story and all-around great read.

Taking Action

CCFA kicks off annual Holly's Hope walk for farm sanctuaries

The sun shone and the forecasted rain held off, making 
Sunday, July 27th a perfect day for the second annual Holly's Hope Walk for Ontario Farm Sanctuaries. CCFA director Edana Brown welcomed the crowd at Toronto's Dufferin Grove Park, then joined the walk through mid-town to Kensington Market. This year's walk raised almost $15,000 for a number of Ontario sanctuaries that provide much-needed (and expensive) care to rescued farm animals. A huge thank-you to tireless organizer Sharon diGenova... here's to next year!



This little pig comes home

A collaborative effort between James McLean of Toronto Animal Services and Kara Burrow of Bella Misty Meadows sanctuary has given this little pig the life he deserves. McLean tells us this little fellow (who is yet to be named) was found wandering in a Scarborough park. McLean took him in, made him comfy, and when no 0ne came forward to claim him, the shelter vet neutered him. McLean, meanwhile, set to work finding him a forever home.

Bella Misty Meadows was more than happy to take him in. Located in St. Williams, Ontario, the sanctuary provides rescue, rehabilitation and retirement to many different animals in need.

Thanks to James and Kara for the kindness they've shown this little guy.

Tofu Florentine
For a yummy, tummy-warming way to enjoy weekend brunch (or weekday breakfast, if you're extra organized), try this simple recipe from Vicki Fecteau's Veggie Revolution website. Fecteau is a longtime CCFA supporter, and led recent efforts to make elimination of sow stalls a priority issue for the Ontario government. Way to go Vicki!    
  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 oz (120 grams) fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 package (6 oz or 360 grams) firm silken tofu
  • 1/3 tsp (2 ml) tumeric
  • 1/4 cup margarine 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

1. In 2 tbsp (30 ml) of vegetable oil over medium heat, cook the spinach until wilted. Remove from heat and keep warm.
2. Drain the tofu and mash with a fork, then add the turmeric and mix well.
3. Using the remaining vegetable oil, cook the tofu over medium-low heat until warmed through.
4. Lightly toast the English muffins.
5. Whisk together the margarine and lemon juice and warm in the microwave or in a saucepan.
6. Place the tofu on the muffin halves, add the wilted spinach and drizzle with sauce.

Serves 2.


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