Behind the Lines - December 2014

“Nobody trusts industrialists,” notes highly-respected University of British Columbia animal welfarist David Fraser. History books tell us that legislation was eventually brought in to deal with widespread abuses during the industrial revolution and Fraser theorizes that this is why the citizenry looks at the old model of agrarianism fondly, refers to modern large-scale agriculture, including pig barns, as “industrial” and looks at it askance.

Is there a different model for modern agriculture? Fraser argues that self-regulated professionalism is just such a one and many farmers, like John Van Engelen who is featured on our cover, fit the criteria. They provide a skill or service that people want and value (food), demonstrate competence as expressed to peers, and create public trust by respecting the interests and ethical expectations of society, “normally through self-regulation.” This concept of “professional” pork producers is explored in a story by Don Stoneman, starting on page 6.

New research from the Prairie Swine Centre provides an interesting look at the possibility of boosting post-weaning weight gain by a simple change in how creep feed is presented to nursing pigs. For this story, see page 14.

Also from Saskatchewan, Dr. John Harding, Canadian swine veterinarian and professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, conducted a worldwide survey of veterinarians and concluded that an average of three new swine diseases per year have emerged to threaten pigs and people worldwide. On page 28, Better Pork columnist Dr. Ernest Sanford files his report on Harding’s research and other presentations at the 23rd International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress in Cancun, Mexico. BP

ROBERT IRWIN

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