The BC Milk Marketing Board (BC Milk) has conditionally reinstated the licence of an Abbotsford dairy farm facing animal-cruelty allegations.
The board posted a notice on its website Friday afternoon (Nov. 12), saying it has completed its investigation of Cedar Valley Farms and confirmed there were “multiple violations” of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle.
The notice said the BC SPCA is continuing to investigate the matter, which could lead to criminal charges.
BC Milk said since it suspended the farm’s licence in late October, there has been independent oversight of the animals, and they are healthy and receiving proper care.
The reinstatement of the licence comes with mandatory conditions, including the appointment of an independent third-party consultant.
The consultant will report directly to BC Milk and will oversee that the management and employees at Cedar Valley Farms “are executing the cultural change in animal care and handling practices required by BC Milk,” the notice states.
Other conditions include that the board will have an independent veterinarian conduct regular checks of the herd, and that all staff and management undertake cattle-handling and animal-welfare training and sign a “cattle care commitment, subject to verification and review.”
“Over the next 12 months, Cedar Valley Farms will be subject to monthly unannounced animal welfare inspections by BC Milk. All costs associated with oversight and monitoring of the farm and employees will be incurred by Cedar Valley Farms,” the notice indicates.
Any information gathered by the BC SPCA during its investigation might add additional conditions to the dairy licence at any time, BC Milk says.
The BC Dairy Association also issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying it supports the decision of BC Milk to place mandatory conditions on the farm’s licence.
Dairy farmer and board chair Holger Schwichtenberg said BC Dairy will be undertaking several initiatives, including advocating for a prohibition on anyone convicted of criminal animal abuse from ever working on a B.C. dairy farm.
He said they will also be working with animal-care experts to establish a standardized cattle-training program for all on-farm employees and with provincial authorities to review the process for farm inspections.
“Every dairy farmer I know is passionate about the care of their animals, but the actions at Cedar Valley Farms make it clear there is work to be done to ensure the level of care is the same at every farm in the province,” Schwichtenberg said.
“Abuse has no place on any farm, and must not be tolerated. The conditions being imposed by the BC Milk Marketing Board are designed to change the culture at this farm, which is critically important, while sending a clear message regarding the expectations for the treatment of animals on all dairy farms in B.C.”
BC Milk suspended the farm’s licence based on information provided by the BC SPCA and a subsequent inspection of the farm.
A video of the alleged abuse was sent anonymously to the national animal-welfare group Animal Justice and turned over to the BC SPCA.