Concerns grow over new humane transportation regulations

By Dori Modney (@Dori_Modney on Twitter) with files from ABP
March 11, 2019 - 6:46pm

CALGARY --  Regulations governing the humane transportation of animals were updated at the end of February, 2018 and come into effect February 20, 2020.

Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) and the Canadians Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) provided extensive comments on the regulatory proposal. However,  Rich Smith, Executive Director of Alberta Beef Producers, says activist positions have resulted in unsatisfactory changes

"We were very dissapointed that the Health of Animals Transport  Regulations, that come into effect in 2020, did not follow the recommendations that the Canadian Cattlemens Association and Alberta Beef Producers had made.  We're quite fearful and our concern is that these reguatiosn will actually increaSe stress and risk of injury for animals, as they've reduced the maximum travel times and increased the need for rest stops and we're worried that in the unloading of the animals, there will actually be an increase stress and injuries."

Although there are items of concern in the new regulations, Smith feels any changes would be difficult to make.

"Our arguement was that we should wait until we understand more about the benefits of rest stops and how that should happen and make sure we have the infrastructure before we just impose this on people.  With the significant reduction in the maximum travel times - there was a four hour, sort of, grace period for emergency situations when you couldn't get the animals there in time. But, that's been removed.  We just thougtht they should have paid more attention to our recommendations and some of the research that's actually going on right now."

Smith also points to the difference in travel times that come into effect next February.

He notes that it used to be 48-hours was the maximum length of trip and included with the 48 hours, if a vehicle was getting close to its destination and weather or some other situations had delayed the trip, they actually had a four hour grace period but.  However, it's now a firm 36-hours.

"For cattle going across the country, there will be the need for more stops with the cattle being unloaded and unloading cattle into a strange area, we don't think is going to reduce stress or reduce the risk of injury."

Smith raises another very important issue, which raises the question of the need to even change transport times.

"We have a very good record of transporting cattle.  Agriculture and Agri-food Canada research shows that 99.95% arrive at their destination in good condition, so our concern here is that there isn't much room for imporvement and there is a lot of room to go backwards and reduce the benefits for animals."

Smith's final comment: “It’s important to make everybody realize that producers care about the health and welfare of their animals and activist positions bringing change may not be in the interest of animal welfare."

Producer welcomes any consultation regarding farm and ranch safety

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