Your Board of Directors invited 10 producers to participate in an End of Lay Depopulation Strategic Working Session on August 24th. The goals of the facilitated session were to:
- Develop a collective understanding of facts and a common language to use in discussions.
- Engage in discussions of the issue at a strategic level.
- Develop and analyze potential options to address the issue while understanding factors like cost, risks, and long-term opportunities.
- Provide input to the Board’s strategic planning session taking place on September 25 and 26.
The day included a review of past work and discussions, a discussion on trends in other markets, and key conclusions to consider that will drive options development. There was also a panel discussion where participants discussed the history of the issue and EFA’s original Board vision, key trends, and a discussion on future options, including their pros and cons. The slides that served the basis of this discussion and that capture comments from the meeting will be posted on the homepage of the producer website in the near future.
The Board would like all producers to know that, while this is a complex issue that takes time to address, EFA is developing and investigating several options, and working on developing an industry strategy. We hope to use the Strategic Planning Session, October Meeting, and an additional strategic session this fall for further discussion and planning, with an eye toward an update at the 2018 EFA Regional Meetings in January and the EFA AGM. That being said, we will take as long as we need to make a good decision.
When making decisions, producers should understand that changes are coming. The following were emerging points of consensus from the meeting:
- Solutions need to be economically feasible, scientifically verifiable, and socially acceptable.
- While a national standard needs to be developed, Alberta will likely need to take a leadership position in creating and implementing this standard.
- We need certified and appropriate methods that are standardized, available, and useable at every farm in Alberta.
- We need proactive engagement and messaging for the public (ie: government, customers, consumers).
- The following previously developed Board goals related to this topic are still relevant today:
- No producer fails the Animal Care Program;
- Producers should be able to euthanize birds on farm, meeting required standards, with a verifiable system;
- We need to ensure that the industry is not obstructed by external forces.
- It is essential that the industry is able to scientifically defend what each value chain stakeholder is doing.
- Whatever is chosen, we need to leave options for phasing-out methods so that farms are not exposed to the risk of regulation changes.
- We need communication plans to ensure a smooth transition period.
- There cannot be a hard cut-off.
There was consensus on the following emerging options:
- Phase-outs with support as science evolves and becomes more conclusive.
- Address issues with moving birds during depopulation.
- Being mindful and proactive with consumer perception of an acceptable system.A small breakout group analyzed the pros, cons, and implications of current depopulation processes to identify criteria that should guide our strategy. EFA will be looking for producers to provide input on that list of criteria – stay tuned!
If you have any questions about the August 24th meeting, we encourage you to connect with one of your Board Directors.