Social parameters are a key component of a product’s sustainability. The social assessment evaluates the socioeconomic performance of the Canadian beef life cycle by reviewing the social performance of organizations across the value chain to establish socioeconomic impacts with respect to main stakeholders and to various social issues.
The processes and practices associated with producing beef were evaluated – highlighting areas that are doing well and identifying areas for further improvement with respect to four priority social issues: Labour Management, People’s Health and Safety, Animal Care, and Antimicrobial Use.
Health and safety at work concerns the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being, and capabilities of all individuals involved in business operations, including employees but also producers and the people living on the farm.
About half of participants working on-farm indicated a large amount of stress leading to impacts on health such as sleep loss, changes in appetite, and body/headaches.
Three-quarters of those surveyed reported experiencing levels of disturbing stress affecting mental and physical health.
Animal care refers to animal health and welfare through activities that humans undertake as part of the beef supply chain.
It is about providing for the physical and mental well-being of animals (The Five Freedoms), and meeting or exceeding consumer expectations.
The foundation for animal care is guided by the Five Freedoms which must be upheld. These five freedoms include: freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, injury and disease, fear and distress, and freedom to express normal behavior.
Further outlining the care and handling of beef cattle, a Code of Practice was developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council in conjunction with welfare researchers, veterinarians, animal welfare groups and other stakeholders. The code highlights requirements and recommendations to ensure the health and welfare of beef cattle, while providing avenues for further improvement.
Animal care is a success story in Canada.
Increased practice adoption, coordination and communication across businesses, sectors, and industries may be needed to ensure animal care throughout the cattle’s life cycle.