December 19, 2018
by PETER MITHAM
Three parties appeared in Chilliwack provincial court this week to hear charges laid following a 2017 investigation into the abuse of chickens at farms in the Fraser Valley.
Elite Farm Services Ltd., its president Dwayne Dueck, and processor Sofina Foods Inc. are charged with 38 counts of abusing animals. The charges were brought forward by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after an investigation sparked by undercover footage staff with the animal rights group Mercy for Animals filmed as part of an Elite chicken catching crew. The footage caught crew members subjecting broiler chickens at various Abbotsford farms to mistreatment ranging from sexual assault to dismemberment prior to delivery to Sofina.
Elite responded promptly, terminating four staff that participated in the abuse (two others were no longer with the company) and updating employee training protocols and tightening supervision of crews.
“Elite has worked hard to make sure we have a company culture that is based on respect for the animals under our stewardship,” it said in a statement after when the charges were announced last week.
The industry has also updated its protocols. BC Chicken Marketing Board implemented a new audit for chicken catching in fall 2017 and, as of January 1, 2018, began licensing catching companies and contractors. Unlicensed catching is no longer allowed.
Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the BC SPCA, initially expected Crown counsel to lay charges against six individuals. Other investigations have usually led to the employees directly engaged in the abuse being charged.
However, the subsequent investigation led to Dueck being the sole individual charged in this case.
“CFIA determines who responsible parties may be during an animal welfare investigation,” the federal agency told Country Life in BC. “We are not able to provide further comment regarding how charges are determined in this case as the matter is currently before the courts.”
The charges could draw hefty fines. When the Kooyman brothers of Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. plead guilty and were sentenced on four counts of abuse following a Mercy for Animals sting operation, the fines totalled $345,000 – the maximum fine of $75,000 for each count, plus a victim surcharge of $11,250. Restrictions were also placed on the men.
Vol. 105 Issue 3
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
Province boosts ag spending
It’s a draw!
Editorial: Vice grip
Back Forty: Snow days make good days for seed selection
Viewpoint: Farmers need to prepare for annual snow melt
Smooth start to season as foreign workers arrive
Sidebar: Province mulls piece rates
Late winter has some Okanagan growers on edge
Ag show attracts near-record attendance
Ag Briefs: Traceability funding available for producers
Ag Briefs: Cattlemen’s launches webinar series
Ag Briefs: Grant winner announced
Labour remains a priority for fruit growers
Dairy, aquaculture take home awards at gala
Farmers need to prepare for uncertainty
Ag critic listens to concerns at farmers’ institute
Growers are responsible for workers’ safety
Robotic milkers sized up during dairy tour
Safe, high-quality silage depends on preparation
Diversification makes orchard a landmark
Ranchers need to match forage with herd needs
Producers question new Indigenous rights law
Hosting TRU students a way to give back
Livestock co-op provides selling, buying options
Sidebar: Market set to stay steady
Research: Bluetongue outbreaks expected to increase
Filling a niche for gourmet mushrooms
Regulations, housing key issues in Langley
Sheep producers seeing value in genetic program
Above and beyond
Vegetation fundamental to farms, landscape
Studies continue on forage, corn crop pests
4-H BC leader singled out
Growers go with the grain of beer revival
Agri-tourism has plenty of room for growth
Rose stem girdler poses threat to cranberries
Site prep critical for healthy hazelnut orchards
Sidebar: BC renewal program opens up
Wannabe: Renewal comes with a new generation of farmers
Woodshed: Deborah and Doug McLeod turn up the heat
A good place to meet up
Jude’s Kitchen: Celebrate spring by eating outside