Protecting farm animal welfare in British Columbia - frequently asked questions  

How are farm animals protected in B.C.?

Animal welfare and an effective regulatory system to address animal cruelty is a B.C. Government priority.  The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) is the primary source of protection for farm animals in B.C.

Under the PCA Act, action can be taken against anyone who causes distress to an animal in B.C. including farm and ranch owners, managers and employees.  The PCA Act has some of the toughest penalties in Canada: the maximum penalty for those convicted of causing animal distress is $75,000 and up to 24 months imprisonment, or both.

The Animal Care Codes of Practice Regulation (the Regulation) came into force on June 1, 2019, under the PCA Act, to provide further protection for farm animals by establishing reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management.  The Regulation references the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice for farm animals (NFACC Codes) as reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management.  Under the PCA Act, a person must not be convicted of causing distress to an animal if it can be proved they followed reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management (see section 24.02 (c)).

Does the Animal Care Codes of Practice Regulation apply to all farming and ranching operations in B.C.?

The Animal Care Codes of Practice Regulation applies to all farming and ranching operations in B.C. where the animals listed in section 2 of the Regulation are kept for the purposes of breeding, boarding, grazing, selling, training, and for the production of certain farm and ranch products and by-products. . See the Regulation here: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/34_2019

Who enforces B.C.’s animal welfare laws?

The BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) is mandated by the B.C. Government through the PCA Act to respond to animals in distress.  Enforcement actions are performed by BC SPCA employees who receive mandatory training and are appointed as special provincial constables under the Police Act.

Why did the B.C. Government create a regulation referencing NFACC’s Codes of Practice for farm animals?

Referencing the NFACC Codes in regulation ensures better understanding of what is meant by “reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management” and protects farmers and ranchers where these practices are misperceived or challenged.  The Codes outline generally accepted management practices for livestock and farm animal operators, including owners, managers, and employees.  While failure to abide by the NFACC Codes is not necessarily an offence, following the Codes is a defence from conviction of animal distress.  Referencing the NFACC Codes in regulation therefore provides an incentive to farmers and ranchers to follow these practices.

In addition to B.C. Government regulations, the NFACC Codes provide a basis for industry-led animal care programs. Some programs are mandatory through Marketing Board/Commission General Orders, or through industry-driven on-farm animal care programs.

Who is the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)?

NFACC is a collaborative partnership of a diverse range of Canadian agriculture stakeholders including industry associations, the Federal Government, enforcement agencies, animal care and welfare bodies, and provincial ministries across the country.  NFACC coordinates and leads the Code development process in Canada.  The NFACC Codes are a national standard for animal care requirements and recommended practices. The NFACC Codes promote sound management for animal housing, care, transportation, and other animal husbandry practices.  The NFACC Codes development and revision process includes extensive consultation with both the general public and stakeholders, including humane organizations.

For more information about NFACC and the NFACC Code development process, see https://www.nfacc.ca/

I still have questions about farm animal welfare in B.C. Who can I contact to answer my questions?

For more information about farm animal welfare in B.C., please contact AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141 or agriservicebc@gov.bc.ca