Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning. My name is Robin Horel and I'm the president and CEO of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.
Thank you for the invitation to provide to the committee and other interested parties CPEPC's perspectives on industry and government initiatives for animal welfare.
Our council is the national trade organization for Canadian chicken and turkey processors, hatcheries, egg graders, and egg processors. We're now in our 63rd year. Our council has member companies in every province of Canada.
In addition to representing the interests of more than 170 Canadian poultry processors, egg processors, and hatcheries, our membership also includes over 50 national and international industry partners who have joined us as associate members.
Representing some of the largest agrifood corporations in Canada, our member companies process over 90% of Canada's chicken, turkey, eggs, and hatching eggs. This economic activity generates over $5 billion in annual retail sales. To accomplish this, our members have invested over $1.5 billion in plants and equipment, and directly employ more than 20,000 Canadian workers.
The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council has identified as a strategic priority continuing to build on the trust with customers and consumers through the implementation of effective animal welfare initiatives.
The Canadian poultry industry is committed to providing animal care of the highest possible standard.
The production of hatching eggs, chicken, turkey, and eggs is controlled in Canada under supply management. The national producer agencies play a key role in ensuring that their members comply with animal welfare guidelines set forth in the codes of practice and government regulations.
The codes of practice are the foundation of Canada's farm animal welfare system. The existing codes of practice for poultry meat and egg-laying birds are only 10 years old, and are already being reviewed and updated using the National Farm Animal Care Council process. The codes are produced using the most up-to-date science available, and they reflect societal values.
The poultry and egg industries are among the few that also have animal care assessment programs. The animal care program ensures that what is in the codes is in fact what is being practised on the farms. They allow industry to prove that what we say matches with what we do.
You'll be hearing from witnesses from the National Farm Animal Care Council and from the producer agencies for poultry and eggs during this week of testimony, so I'll leave it to them to discuss the details of both the codes and the animal care assessment programs.
Before leaving the subject of NFACC, the National Farm Animal Care Council, I wish to make a few additional comments. This organization is unique in the world. I'm proud to serve on the council as the representative of the poultry processing industry. I'm currently NFACC's vice-chair.
This uniquely made-in-Canada organization is composed of virtually all of Canada's poultry and livestock associations, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, processors, retail and food service customers, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, researchers, provincial groups, and government.
When you have this diverse group of people who are dedicated to ensuring and improving animal welfare sitting around the same table, you can accomplish a lot. In our opinion, the only way to truly address animal welfare is to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together.
I'll now move downstream from the farm gate, because as you've correctly identified, animal welfare is a supply chain responsibility.
Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council was a driving force behind the creation of a document entitled “Recommended Best Practices for Bird Care in the Canadian Poultry Supply Chain from Farmer to Processor”. The document was the result of two years of work with our supply chain partners.
Unveiled in April 2012, it outlines welfare obligations for each—the farmer, catcher, transporter, and processor—based on industry knowledge, current practice, and existing programs. It explains what CFIA expects of processors, who in turn have expectations for their transporters, catchers, and farmers.
The document is expected to be reviewed regularly. A new version was released and distributed throughout the industry in January 2013. The document includes a decision tree to assist farmers, catchers, and truckers in assessing flocks to ensure that birds are fit to load.
Recently CFIA released a related document to CPEPC for consultation, the compromised poultry policy. We surveyed our industry, and we recently submitted written comments to CFIA. We have a scheduled follow-up meeting with them in late July.
CPEPC and many other stakeholders have invested in the Canadian livestock transportation certification program. This livestock training program, originating in Alberta, is the choice training program for many CPEPC member companies for their drivers.
In August 2012, with the assistance of government and industry funding, a project manager was hired and CLT began to reinvent itself, the goal being to create a web-based recertification program using updated versions of existing course material for each species.
CFIA monitors transportation and inspects the birds arriving at our processing plants. We work closely with them to ensure that inspectors and plant management have a common understanding of requirements. For the past year we have consulted with them on the issue of commercial poultry transport welfare.
A compliance verification system task has been developed and is currently being rolled out across the country by CFIA inspectors at the processing plants. The biggest issue for industry in the past has been the development of poultry regulations that have been based on red meat programs, and the inconsistent application of requirements in the field.
In addition, industry has been waiting for a number of years for the new health of animals regulations dealing with transportation of animals. The poultry industry has for some time not had visibility into what is contained in the new transportation regulations. We will need an opportunity to consult again on the proposed final regulations and will want assurance that the differences between species, for example, between poultry and cattle, or hogs, have been recognized.
We understand from CFIA that the process of modernization of these regulations remains a priority for the agency and that the proposed changes will be published in Canada Gazette part I for formal consultation before they are finalized.
Humane slaughter is an activity directly within the control of CPEPC's poultry processing member companies. We take our responsibility to minimize stress and avoidable suffering for poultry seriously. In addition to complying with the applicable guidelines in the code, CPEPC member companies also fully comply with Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations as prescribed in the manual of procedures. Later this year we expect CFIA to release their new chapter in the “Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures” on animal welfare requirements. Direct agency oversight of the slaughter process is the public's assurance that humane procedures are being followed in our plants.
Given the importance of animal welfare in the livestock and poultry industry, we undertook to host a poultry and red meat technical symposium on the subject in conjunction with the Canadian Meat Council in the fall of 2012.
CPEPC and the Meat Council and CFIA presented a day and a half of welfare education that included presentations from CFIA officials, producer agencies, transport, processing, retail food service, academia. and auditors. It included representation from the U.S. and Spain. Attendance was over capacity. Attendees were pleased with the content and the quality of the presentations.
The national groups that represent producers of chicken, turkey, eggs, and hatching eggs formed, along with us, CPEPC, in December 2001 an organization called the Canadian Poultry Research Council, CPRC. The creation of this council followed the recommendation of a report commissioned by the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council and the Canadian branch of the World's Poultry Science Association.
The goals of CPRC include coordinating and enhancing a more efficient Canadian poultry research effort and facilitating the establishment of national poultry research priorities. CPRC's research objectives include meeting consumer expectations as to the way poultry is raised and delivered to them as a nutritious food.
One of the ways industry has stepped up to the plate and responded to these consumer expectations is by funding the Poultry Welfare Centre. The recent announcement of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada staff changes and the cessation of AAFC poultry research will have a negative impact upon poultry research in Canada generally and upon the future of the Poultry Welfare Centre specifically.
To conclude, the key messages that I've tried to outline in my presentation to members of the standing committee today include the following:
Animal welfare is important to our industry and to my member companies. We invest in it; we invest time and money.
The supply-managed nature of the poultry and egg industries in Canada helps facilitate our ability to manage this issue. It is a supply chain issue. Genetics companies, farmers, transporters, and processors all have a role to play.
Collaboration is key not only through the poultry supply chain, as I just noted, but throughout all of animal agriculture, and the structure and the work of NFACC is witness to that collaboration.
We measure results; our customers audit; CFIA provides oversight; and our member companies measure and manage this area of their businesses.
Research is one of the keys to continually adapting and improving practices.
CPEPC and our member companies are proud to participate in a supply chain that provides Canadian consumers with wholesome products while respecting responsible and humane practices for animal care. We will continue to support industry initiatives and research into improved animal husbandry methods in the future.
The result is a supply of safe and nutritious food derived from animals raised in accordance with excellent husbandry practices.
Thank you very much for your attention.
My name is Tim Lambert. I'm the chief executive officer of Egg Farmers of Canada. I appreciate the opportunity to address the group. I’m glad to see this on the agenda of the committee. This is a really important issue for our industry, one which I would suggest is not well understood by the public. Therefore, I think there's a lot of value in the dialogue you're having on this.
By way of background, we represent the 1,000 regulated egg farmers across the country. A point I want to make to the committee is that we represent conventional cage producers, organic producers, free-run, free-range, brown egg producers, and omega-3 producers—the whole gamut. It really puts us at somewhat of a disadvantage in the public dialogue with animal rights groups because simply put, we're not going to go out publicly and point out any disadvantages and strengths of the different systems. We don't want to be seen criticizing different production systems. The activists tend to take a one-sided view that all cages are bad for layer production. That's a really inaccurate portrayal of the reality of the situation, so I'd like to speak to that a bit today.
I'd also note that unlike most trade associations, Egg Farmers of Canada has some regulatory and operational responsibilities. For example, we buy and sell all the eggs that get used by processing companies and we negotiate directly with them on behalf of producers. We're very much involved in the commerce within the industry. As part of that regulatory responsibility, we operate an on-farm food safety program called Start Clean Stay Clean, which is HACCP, hazard analysis and critical control point, based and has been reviewed technically by CFIA. I don't want to spend any real time on that today, the subject being animal welfare, but I did want to note that for the committee's attention.
Of particular interest today is that we operate an on-farm animal welfare program as well. It is based on codes of practice that were developed in conjunction with scientists, producers, and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. We have a scientific advisory panel that oversees that process for us. Through NFACC we're in the process of reviewing those codes as we speak.
Why then is hen welfare an issue? It's because we have science-based systems in place. A key point that gets lost in some of the debate is that birds that aren't healthy aren't happy and they aren't productive. Farmers have very much a vested interest in the welfare of their birds to ensure that they're productive. I'd like to tell you that the issue is black and white, but that's not true at all.
I've been meeting with Canadian retailers across the country. Last week I was meeting with Sobeys in Toronto. I've been out west to meet with the Overwaitea and Save-On-Foods group. I've also met with Loblaws and Tim Hortons. What I said to them is that ultimately we're going to supply the eggs that Canadians want to purchase regardless of the production system. We don't have a vested interest in which system it is, and there are pros and cons to each.
With respect to cage production, when birds are in cages, they're separated from their manure. When they're separated from their manure, there is a higher level of food safety with the birds. However, when birds are taken out of cages, they're in contact with their manure, and there will be challenges with disease, internal parasites, and mites. Because they're on the floor, there can be challenges with bone breakage. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to most people, but I'll say it in front of this committee, hens are cannibalistic. If they're in too large a group, managing their tendency to become territorial and attack each other is a challenge. That's a significant animal welfare challenge.
As an anecdote, I was talking to an organic producer, and he had lost about 15% to 20% of his flock. Other producers on our board were asking if that was because of disease in his flock. He said that no, it was cannibalism. That's something not widely understood. I think the committee would appreciate why it's not something we go speak a great deal about publicly.
What cages don't do—and if you look at the left side of the page—is that they don't allow the birds the opportunity to perch, which is a natural behaviour, to forage, to dust bathe, and to use a nesting box.
In the middle column you'll see reference to “enriched”. By enriched cages, we mean colony systems. They hold about 60 birds. In them are perches. In them is an area where they can scratch. In that system are perch areas.
We think that over time our industry will migrate to that type of system. That is where Europe has gone, at 116 square inches per hen. It has a ban on conventional cages which started in 2012, but it does allow for enriched housing systems.
The U.S. has an agreement with the Humane Society of the United States. They're working on getting that passed into law. It too would allow for the use of enriched cages.
What we're doing here in Canada is extensive. We're doing a lot of research. You'll hear later, I think, from Dr. Tina Widowski. We sponsor a chair in animal welfare at the University of Guelph and it's held by Dr. Widowski. We are undergoing our review of codes of practice, which I referred to. We're continuing to do our research into that system as a possible alternative down the road.
We're also involved very actively internationally. We're part of a group called the International Egg Commission. I serve as the chair of the animal welfare working group. We're also involved with the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE. A Canadian veterinarian, Dr. Vincent Guyonnet, is on the working group establishing layer welfare standards for the OIE.
We're involved domestically, involved with the U.S., and involved with Europe and other countries as well.
As this process unfolds, you can be assured that all regulated production is currently conducted using the very best accepted scientific information. We are continually building and applying the new information we get. We will continue to take every step possible to continue to build a world-class industry. We take great pride in that culture of continuous improvement.
Thank you for your kind attention.
I will be first and Edouard will finish the presentation.
Good morning, everyone. My name is Jackie Wepruk. I am the general manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council.
Thank you very much for the invitation today to provide the committee and other interested parties with the perspective of the National Farm Animal Care Council, or NFACC, on issues around animal welfare.
I'll begin with an orientation to the National Farm Animal Care Council and its processes. NFACC's chair, Edouard Asnong, will then deliver his perspective as chair.
Canadian agriculture, allied and downstream industries and governments are increasingly being challenged relative to how farm animals are cared for. Canadian food companies view animal welfare as a critical part of their sustainability agenda. Animal welfare has become a global issue recognized by corporations, development agencies, trade agreements, and even financial institutions. International developments are shaping the global agenda, with potential implications for Canadian farmers.
NFACC is a collaborative partnership of diverse Canadian stakeholders engaged in meaningful processes that address these farm animal welfare challenges. Our partners include virtually all the national livestock and poultry associations, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and many others. Governments, both federal and provincial, are also represented on the council. Our associate members include Loblaws, Sobeys, and Tim Hortons.
These diverse groups have come together under the NFACC umbrella to deliver an innovative science-informed approach to farm animal welfare that meets both market and societal expectations. NFACC members are committed to real progress on farm animal welfare while maintaining the viability of Canadian farmers and allied businesses to market their products domestically and globally.
NFACC has three primary focus areas: overseeing the development of national codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals; overseeing the development of a national framework for animal care assessment programs; and developing and facilitating information sharing and communication.
Codes of practice are our national understanding of farm animal care requirements and recommended practices. They are produced through a rigorous development process which takes into account the best science available for each species. Codes are practical, informed by science, and reflect societal values. It's a balance that enables implementation, enhances credibility, and builds trust.
An unprecedented eight codes have been under development since 2010, with six to be completed by the end of 2013. New mink and farmed-fox codes have just been released, and a new equine code will be released in early June, with an updated beef cattle code released by August. The draft pig code will be released for public comment on Saturday, June 1, followed by a draft sheep code for public comment. The two poultry codes are also under development, one for meat birds and the other for layers. The dairy code was updated in 2009.
Project funding through the advancing Canadian agriculture and agri-food program, or ACAAF, and the Growing Forward programs has enabled the development of these codes. We are developing project applications for Growing Forward 2 that would enable us to finish the two poultry codes, along with developing or updating three additional codes. Project funding is our primary means for executing NFACC's processes.
Codes are a vital foundation, but alone they are not enough. In today's environment we all must be able to demonstrate that we are doing what we say we are doing.
NFACC's partners are developing an innovative animal care assessment model, ACAM, that dovetails with the codes to provide livestock and poultry sectors with a credible mechanism to prove that codes are being followed. A common national framework will provide Canada's livestock and poultry industries with a practical, economically feasible mechanism to maintain and strengthen their social licence with the public. It will also enhance our ability to collectively communicate to domestic and international markets about Canadian animal care assessment programs.
The ACAM is being test-piloted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, who are in the process of developing a dairy animal care assessment program based on their code from 2009. This initiative has received project funding through Agriculture and Agri-Food's agricultural flexibility fund.
Animal welfare is an emotional topic. Feelings on the subject are personal and based on individual experiences, values, and circumstances. Productive dialogue can definitely be a challenge. NFACC facilitates this open dialogue that builds understanding and consensus among a variety of perspectives and positions. Science is used as the foundation to inform our deliberations relative to what is possible, how it is possible, and when it is possible.
We all share a common interest in supporting innovation in farm animal care and helping Canadian farmers to succeed. NFACC processes offer a meaningful yet cost-effective mechanism to achieve both.
I'll now pass the second part of our presentation to Mr. Edouard Asnong.
A small part of my presentation will be made in French.
Good morning. As Jackie has said, I am in fact chairman, as well as being a hog producer from Pike River, Quebec. I appreciate the invitation to provide the committee and other interested parties with NFACC’s perspective on issues around animal welfare.
I have been in the hog industry since the mid-1970s and I have held several national and provincial positions on behalf of my industry. Today, however, I am speaking to you as NFACC’s chair.
NFACC is seen as the go-to group for addressing animal welfare nationally and across sectors. The relationships have been cultivated among diverse groups that would not normally work together. This has created an environment of collaboration and trust that has been the cornerstone of NFACC’s success. Farm animal welfare is being addressed in a way that individual organizations could not easily do on their own.
I accepted the chairman position because I am determined that this organization should have the future that it deserves. NFACC has survived and delivered results in spite of limited funding and human resources. I believe that NFACC supports those involved in the livestock and poultry sectors to meet the challenges faced around farm animal care issues and seize the opportunities that exist. Too often it is the people directly responsible for the care of animals whose practical knowledge is left out of the decision-making process.
We have an opportunity, through NFACC, to set the course relative to Canada's farm animal care and welfare system. Change is happening and it will continue to happen.
In the absence of NFACC's rigorous science-informed stakeholders engagement processes, there is a greater risk of having multiple or competing standards or regulations. This is likely to put farmers at a competitive disadvantage and provide questionable animal welfare improvements.
Stakeholders are using NFACC's processes to identify evidence-based practical solutions that address farm animal care concerns, meet market requirements, and can be implemented by farmers. However, if transitions are needed on farms, farmers alone cannot bear the burden of change.
Other stakeholders must be involved where transitions are at high cost and put farmers at a competitive disadvantage. Full engagement is needed from veterinarians, governments, animal welfare advocates, processors, the retail and food service sectors, and researchers. Everyone shares in the responsibility and must be part of the solution.
In many ways, NFACC is now a victim of its own success. We are being challenged by increasing demands with a limited resource base. While there is recognition of the value that NFACC brings, financial sustainability remains elusive. The future of NFACC depends upon strong financial support from its members and the government.
Jackie mentioned how science informs our deliberations at NFACC. We are concerned about recently announced cuts to agriculture and agrifood research, particularly in the area of animal welfare. Research and the resulting tech transfer are critical for the ongoing development of animal welfare initiatives in Canada.
We hope this streamlining effort will be rechannelled to support important animal welfare work being done at universities and centres of excellence across Canada. I hope you share with me a determination to ensure NFACC has the future it deserves within Canada's animal care and welfare system.
Thank you for the opportunity to present NFACC's perspective on this important topic.
With the enriched or furnished cage system, what they've done is ask what the reasons were. If you go back far enough, birds weren't in any form of cage. They were on the ground. They actually came off the ground into cages as a way of managing disease, managing cannibalism, and ensuring that all birds got adequate feed and fresh water. There were strengths to that, but the compromise was space and some of these natural behaviours.
The design is effectively one of giant colonies. There are cages which hold about 60 birds, with probably double the amount of space per bird. Running the length of these long colony systems there are perches so the birds can perch. If you go back far enough, the commercial fowl we use go back to jungle fowl. Those birds instinctively will go up into the trees at night. That's the instinctive part. Birds prefer to come up off the ground at night and they'll perch. They're comfortable doing that.
Also, by choice, if they can, rather than just laying their eggs in the bottom of the cage, they would go to a secluded area they deem to be safe to lay an egg. There are these little strips of curtains that allow the birds to go into a private place to lay. You'll actually see the birds queueing up to lay their eggs, to get into this nest area.
The third natural behaviour is one I think Dr. Widowski will speak to, because she's done a ton of research into determining how much energy a bird will expend to engage in certain natural behaviours.
The other is scratching or dust bathing. There is a little rough-surfaced pad which the birds will scratch, and they'll put a little bit of feed on top of that.
On that chart, the reason some of these things show up in yellow and not green is that when you have this scratch area, you could get some manure buildup, so you could get some compromise on bird health. It's minimal, but it is a risk.
What they've tried to do is marry the strengths of different systems into one.
What the enriched or furnished colony cage still does not do is allow the birds to forage far and wide, as they would if they were free run or free range.
Thank you to the witnesses for coming today.
My first question is for Robin and Tim. Robin, you alluded to it, and Tim, I'd like your comments as well.
We're all aware that the industry has come a long way toward bettering animal welfare voluntarily, and I am glad to hear you speak of enriched...as opposed to cages, and the movement towards that, Tim.
However, we know that not everyone plays by those rules. There have been significant cuts to veterinarians before, and now to government researchers, scientists, and biologists at government farms and research stations, and universities across Canada. It's close to 700 in total, with the announcement two weeks ago. When we need greater research, we're getting less research.
In fact, Jacqueline, you referred to science-based policy. I'm beginning to think that it's becoming policy-based science. That's not my quote; that's from somebody else. I'm quite concerned.
I want to know from Robin and Tim, with lack of research, how will industry fill the gap, notably at places like the Canadian poultry welfare centre in Guelph, or the completion of the codes of conduct that you talked about working on? Will this pose a difficulty for farmers?
I only have five minutes so I'm going to time you.
Thank you very much, Chair.
Thank you to our guests. It is an interesting discussion that we are having today.
I think part of the issue is that many consumers are so far removed from their agricultural base. Their main contact perhaps is with the petting zoo or whatever, which is probably the worst thing that could happen to animals.
I suppose I could go back to my own experiences. We had chickens that were free range, but you'd also look at what they were picking through, the bugs and everything else that they had. You did see the roosting; you saw that. You saw them going into their own little stalls so that they could nest. The eggs did not come out overly clean, so you were the one responsible for cleaning them. That's part of it, but that's the reality. I think when people look at it from the outside, they say, “Well, jeepers, how could you manage something like that? It has to be pristine.” It's not really a reality, and then when people suggest, “Well, let's go back to that,” I think there are a few issues that have to be taken into account.
The same thing goes for hog production. I remember our having the little A-frames that the hogs would go into. I suppose it looks very romantic that this would be the situation, but of course the reason for that was so the piglets could get over to the side so they wouldn't be crushed by the sow, which is the same situation as far as the gestation stall is concerned. You're looking at the cannibalistic nature that exists when you put a number of hogs together. They get bored; they start chewing on tails, and as soon as they get one down, you see what happens to it. The same thing happens with chickens.
When you look at it from the outside, as you talked about, there are the activists and the turmoil, and the explanations that are required when you don't get ahead of the messaging. I think that's extremely significant. There are these realities that exist in all of these different commodity groups.
I'd like a quick comment on how you manage some of this turmoil, and how you look at it to make sure that people realize what the realities are.
Robin, I believe you spoke about the Canadian livestock transport certification program, and the web-based recertification process that was associated with each of your commodities, and the commodities have to end up being moved. I wonder if you could touch on some of those areas.
I had written a note here. I was going to say the same thing. There is all kinds of research showing that Canadians trust farmers. On the hierarchy ladder, farmers are right up there with veterinarians. Processors are further down. People who work for processors, like me, aren’t even on the ladder, I don't think. I haven't seen one with me on it.
I'm really proud of the Canadian system. I'm biased, and I'll state that I'm biased. What we seem to have developed, partly through NFACC, partly because of the culture, as Tim suggested, is our customers are in the tent with us. Our customers want to know the differences between the green column, the red column, and the yellow column. They want to understand the science. They have brands they have to protect. They're getting pressure from consumers, absolutely, but they want to do the right thing. They want to understand the science and they're in the tent with us.
As you said, consumers are further away from the farm, for sure. Consumers want to know more, but consumers also vote with their wallets. For example, in eggs, the percentage of regular versus omega-3, which is a health benefit and not an animal welfare benefit, versus free run, or free range, or organic...it just goes down and down and down. We have to take all that into account.
I like the Canadian system. I like the collaboration. I like that retail and food service customers aren't saying, “Effective next Monday, thou shalt do this.” I like that it's science based, as you mentioned before. I think that's good.
As far as Canadian livestock transport, CLT, goes, it's not only for poultry. CLT was originally for cattle and hogs. We have found in the industry that it seems to be where everyone's gravitating. Hauling livestock, hauling live animals, hauling poultry is different from hauling logs and other freight. You need to have a training module that allows people to understand those differences and that measures them.
What I tried to do in my presentation was go through the supply chain. I started at the farm and went all the way through to the processing plant. Live haul in the middle is a critical component. Having something that's standardized is useful. It appears that CLT will become that standard.
Ms. Wepruk, earlier you wanted to talk about a particular issue, and it's one I want to talk to you about, that comes out of your report. You referred to it earlier. The chair, being as cruel as he is with the time, unfortunately, but with great kindness, had to cut you off.
It is this idea of what farmers do from an animal welfare perspective, which I would say they do very well. It's in their interest to do it really well. I think that Mr. Lambert, Mr. Horel, as well as Mr. Asnong have articulated that. They do treat their animals well. It makes sense to. It would not make sense to do the opposite, quite frankly. I don't want to be overly crass, but these are economic units, so if you want to prosper as a business, it doesn't do you well to mistreat those economic units. I recognize that's commodifying it, but I'm trying to make it make sense.
There's a distinction, and I think you started to talk about it earlier, between what farmers see and what consumers see as animal welfare. They're two different things that don't necessarily mesh well. Mr. Horel as much as said—and absolutely correctly, sir—that unfortunately, we're not on the ladder, either. I'm not sure if you and I, as a processor and a politician, are finding ourselves somewhere else. I wouldn't suggest where, but clearly we're not on that ladder, unfortunately. We need to work on that, you and I, about getting up that ladder.
Are you as an organization thinking about how to find that linkage of folks out there who are talking from an emotional context, sometimes from a knowledge context as well, about certain aspects? We'll use sow gestation crating as an example. I'm certainly not coming down on one side or the other. Their belief is that it's the wrong way to treat a sow, that it should be different, and that t here are reasons for that. Yes, I hear the other side of the argument, and Mr. Lambert put it very succinctly with his chart, which is bang on for the egg side. Thank you very much for that. Their belief is that we shouldn't do it that way, even with the other pieces.
That's the biggest group. We're the smaller group. I'm interested in some of your comments. I think you wanted to go down that road.
How do we work together in a collaborative fashion?