Dismantling the Echo Chamber to Secure Farm Animal Welfare

Jackie Wepruk, General Manager, National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)
Steven Moffett, Canadian Pork Council
Dr. Egan Brockhoff, DVM, Swine Veterinarian
Darren Vanstone, World Animal Protection

Deliberations on farm animal welfare often occur in echo chambers, where ideas and beliefs are reinforced by being repeated amongst already like-minded individuals. Animal welfare is a multi-faceted concept that benefits from diverse perspectives contributing to dialogue and decision-making. The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and its members have embraced diversity of thought as a mechanism to make better decisions on farm animal welfare.

The Code process takes participants on a journey where multiple sources of sometimes contradictory information must be considered, leading to new insights and new directions. Collectively, we shift from asking “which of us is right?” to “what does it look like if each of us is right?” The Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs is an impactful example of farmers, animal welfare advocates, governments and others coming together to collectively set a path of securing the welfare of pigs in the long term.

The Canadian Pork Council has been a member of NFACC since its inception in 2005. The Canadian Pork Council’s Animal Care Assessment tool is an amalgamation of well-documented procedures and verification process representing the high standards that Canadian pork producers provide to their animals. The Canadian Pork Council is currently working on updating our Animal Care Assessment tool to incorporate the revised Code of Practice requirements into the Animal Care Assessment. This process is a major undertaking and has been ongoing since the release of the latest version of the Code in 2014. A diligent evaluation is necessary to ensure that each requirement is assessed individually and objectively. Canadian pork producers have also established animal welfare priorities demonstrating their engagement toward continuous improvement of animal welfare practices.

World Animal Protection is a new member of NFACC. Formerly known as World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), World Animal Protection’s vision is a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty have ended. We aim to work with groups that have the most meaningful impact on the lives of animals and NFACC is the most important forum for improving the lives of farm animals in Canada.

Key learnings:
1. Why diversity leads to better decision-making in farm animal welfare
2. Welfare advances and next steps for hog production in Canada
3. What each of us can do to support approaches that benefit animals


Jackie Wepruk
Jackie has been the General Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) since its inception in 2005. She facilitates a partnership on NFACC between governments, farmed animal industries, the veterinary community, the humane movement and other allied groups. She assists NFACC’s partners in achieving practical solutions to farm animal welfare concerns that address the interests of farmers, domestic and export markets, governments and the Canadian public. Jackie has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg, and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.

Stephen Moffett
Stephen Moffett and his wife Marlene have farmed pigs in Penobsquis, New Brunswick since 1973, where they have lived and raised their seven children. Stephen has been involved in animal welfare issues since 1985, when he participated, through the Canadian Pork Council, in writing the first pig code in Canada. He also helped create the Animal Care Assessment tool and was instrumental in creating the latest update of the Pig Code. The Moffetts have experience with ‘normal’ large-scale hog raising from farrowing to finishing, as well as experience producing for the Free Farm and Certified Humane programs, complete with turn-around farrowing crates and loose-housing gestation.

Dr. Egan Brockhoff, DVM
Dr. Egan Brockhoff is a strong advocate of agriculture and agribusiness. He is graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. He and his family operate a third generation mixed farm in central Alberta. He is a partner and a practicing veterinarian with Prairie Swine Health Services in Red Deer Alberta and a Veterinary Counselor for the Canadian Pork Council. Prairie Swine Health Services is a member of the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Distributed Veterinary Learning Centre. It is a swine medicine and consulting practice offering a wide variety of services to farms and farm families across Western Canada, the U.S. Midwest and Asia. Dr. Brockhoff was the recipient of the 2014 Alberta Pork Congress Industry Ambassador Award.

Darren Vanstone
Darren is the Corporate Engagement Manager for World Animal Protection Canada, where he helps food companies address animal welfare issues in their supply chains. He also sits on the National Farm Animal Care Council and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Before joining World Animal Protection, Darren worked in the retail, grocery and food service industries.