The Future is Now at CAHI 2015
The Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) conference always provides great insights into the world of animal health. And the 2015 meeting, entitled “Who’s In the Driver’s Seat,” was no exception.
The chief topic of the event stemmed around promoting the animal health industry as a whole, and specifically, promoting the good it does for the companion animals we love so dearly.
Several industry leaders gave insightful talks throughout the three-day gathering about where the industry is headed, and how we can help it get there. And of course, Woodruff Sweitzer was more than happy to be a part of the proceedings.
The Preventive Revolution for Cats
Dr. Liz O’Brien, founder of our innovative cat health initiative Cat Healthy, educated attendees about the feline equivalent of the anti vaccination movement, and how it keeps many cat owners away from the veterinarian’s office because they believe vaccinations are required for additional care.
She also spoke about preventive treatments that don’t include vaccinations:
- Weight maintenance
- Dental assessments
- Nutritional Consultations
- Internal Parasite Prevention
- External Parasite Prevention
- Nail Care
- ID Confirmation
- Preventive Healthcare Screenings
- Blood Pressure Evaluations
- Pain Assessment
These treatments, Dr. O’Brien argues, are positives for the cat, the cat owner and the veterinarian. When used, they work to keep cats healthier, steer clear of vaccinations unless deemed absolutely necessary and bring owners that otherwise wouldn’t seek treatment into the vet’s office, creating additional ROI.
Agriculture’s Social License
Alanna Koch, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Province of Saskatchewan, discussed the ways in which the ag industry can continue to grow the crops and animals our society needs, while at the same time maintaining the trust and good will of the public at large.
The industry as a whole doesn’t always do enough to maintain public trust, she says, as evidenced by the 500 North American activist organizations that spent over $2.5 billion U.S. dollars in food-related campaigns.
What can we do to improve our image and gain the trust of the very people who consume what we grow? The key, she believes, lies in going above and beyond when it comes to how crops and animals are treated – or not treated; in doing what’s right in the eyes of the public, and not just what we have the right to do legally.
Beyond that, though, the industry as a whole can work to build trust by educating consumers, engaging stakeholders and building partnerships with friends and opponents alike. This is already happening in a number of ways, but the issue is an ongoing one, and we must all do our part to grow the industry together.
A few of the programs mentioned at the conference are listed below. We’d encourage everyone to find one you can support, and get involved!
Driving the Conversation
Crystal Mackay of Farm & Food Ontario continued the talks about social license, but attacked the issue in a different way, by examining consumer trends, and how to drive them in ways that are beneficial to consumers and producers alike. He led off with a few interesting consumer trends:
- Less then 2% of Canadians farm
- 93% of Canadians know little or nothing about farming
- The general population doesn’t want to examine hard science or studies
- The average Canadians loves “free” and “natural” foods, and LOVES animals.
As you might guess, this can often lead to a negative view of bioscience and modern agriculture in general. So how do we earn back that social license? According to Crystal, the answer is “as a team.” Building trust required a coordinated strategy that involves advocacy, intelligence, issue management, research, regulations and outreach. And, of course, doing the right thing – for the animals, the land and the people we serve. In all, it’s all about acting in accordance with Crystal’s 5 Principles of Sustainable Food and Farming.
And to help ag folks at every level have that conversation, is an entirely new entity. Introducing The Canadian Centre For Food Integrity!
This new organization will provide public trust research and host an annual CFI Summit that will provide networking across the supply chain, provide a platform to share the knowledge we need to build trust with consumers. The Centre will also support the website BestFoodFacts.com, to help consumers get the real facts about their food from experts who are in the know.
Overall, CAHI provided two fantastic days of compelling content helped people across the industry gain a clear, unified vision of the future of agriculture in Canada. We couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of it, and are already looking forward to next year’s conference!