ABBOTSFORD – An investigation of Cedar Valley Farms by the BC SPCA has resulted in charges being recommended against the farm and key individuals in relation to documented instances of animal abuse last year.
“The recommended charges will be before Crown counsel for a decision as to whether or not they will approve charges against individuals/farm,” Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the BC SPCA told Country Life in BC last month.
Details of the charges were not provided, as they have yet to be formally laid.
Delegated with enforcement powers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, BC SPCA launched its investigation last October after receiving video footage from Animal Justice Canada showing what appeared to be violations of provincial and federal laws related to animal care and welfare at the organic dairy farm in Abbotsford.
Among the more than 300 clips were footage showing animals being caned, kicked and suspended from tractor buckets. Other footage shows what appears to be a botched effort to euthanize a down animal.
BC SPCA’s investigation ran alongside one by the BC Milk Marketing Board, which temporarily suspended Cedar Valley’s licence prior to reinstating it with several conditions, including the requirement to hire an independent farm manager chosen by and reporting directly to the marketing board.
BC Milk also engaged an independent vet to perform regular, unannounced inspections to ensure the welfare of the farm’s stock and changes in farm practices.
All management and employees must also undergo training in cattle handling and animal welfare and sign a cattle care commitment subject to outside verification and review.
“This licence is conditional, and if we don’t see the changes happening that we expected to see, then we’ll revisit our decision,” BC Milk chair Janice Comeau said at the time.
The marketing board said the farm, owned by the Vanderwal family, has been cooperative
“The farm has responded constructively, and we’ve seen good progress with the farm complying with all board orders,” the board said in a statement lsat month. “Our monitoring continues, and will remain in place until the BC Milk Marketing Board determines it is no longer required.”
BC Milk declined comment on the recommendation of charges, noting they’re “the purview of the BC SPCA and Crown.” However, it says any employee under investigation for animal abuse is not permitted to be employed at Cedar Valley.