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'Defining the Future' Takes Focus at Conference

by 5m Editor
22 February 2012, at 9:48am

ALBERTA, CANADA - Showing leadership in farm animal care has emerged as a defining issue that will determine the future competitiveness and market success of livestock industries around the globe.

One of the best places to learn about the latest developments in farm animal care – including what they mean for producers and industry – is the 2012 Livestock Care Conference, 21-22 March in Red Deer, Alberta.

The annual event is hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), the organization representing all major livestock producer organizations in the province.

"Farm animal care today is unquestionably a top issue internationally, with many implications from the farm level to the consumer level," says Heini Hehli, a dairy producer from the Rimbey, Alberta, area and Chair of AFAC. "It represents significant challenges but also major opportunities for those who are knowledgeable, progressive and innovative on this issue. As producers, that’s the category we want to be in."

The Livestock Care Conference was one of the first events of its kind designed to help producers, industry and other stakeholders keep at the forefront, says Lorna Baird, AFAC Executive Director. This role has never been more important, as farm animal care has risen to become a focus of new thinking and new expectations at many levels.

Themed Defining the Future, the 2012 Livestock Care Conference will showcase the latest developments, progress, challenges and opportunities. The conference is anchored by a dynamic agenda featuring leading speakers – both local and international – and cutting-edge topics.

"The conference theme this year is about taking charge," says Ms Baird. "A goal of the conference program is to not only inform on the latest developments, but provide valuable perspective on what they mean, what the opportunities are and how to capture them."

Farm animal care is a fundamental of management and innovation at the farm level. It’s an area of increasing focus and rising expectations among retailers and consumers. It’s at the centre of new standards and agreements ranging from codes of practice to international trade. The Livestock Care Conference covers each of these areas.

Examples of featured speakers include Charlie Arnot of the US-based Centre for Food Integrity who will set the scene; Kansas State University’s Glynn Tonsor on consumer expectations and their economic impact; and Gene Gregory of United Egg Producers on opportunities through their recent partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Among additional topics, the conference will highlight the EU phase out of sow stalls and implications for producers, provide lessons from market research, and offer insight on the retail perspective and how that impacts producers. The event also includes a session on Progressive Industry Leaders, which will showcase innovative Alberta producers who stand as examples for industry, along with the presentation of the annual AFAC Awards of Distinction.

The two-day agenda includes an evening reception and student poster session on Wednesday, 21 March, with the main speaker agenda running from 8:15 to 4:30 on Thursday, 22 March. Full conference agenda is available at www.afac.ab.ca/lcc. Livestock producers, industry representatives and others interested can register for this event online at the AFAC website or by calling 403-662-8050.