An Abbotsford dairy farm has had its licence suspended after the BC SPCA announced it is investigating the location for allegations of animal abuse.
The BC Milk Marketing Board said it immediately suspended the dairy licence for Cedar Valley Farms on Interprovincial Highway in east Abbotsford based on information provided by the SPCA and a subsequent inspection of the farm.
Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer, said in a press release issued Thursday afternoon (Oct. 28) that the agency received video footage that “appears to be depicting very serious instances of animal abuse” at Cedar Valley Farms.
Moriarty said the SPCA showed up at the farm unannounced and is now looking through more than 300 video clips. She said some of the images appear to be in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and potentially the Criminal Code of Canada.
“This is a high-priority investigation and we are building a very strong case to present to Crown counsel with a recommendation for charges,” she said.
The BC Milk Marketing Board said it is now conducting a thorough investigation and is working with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries to ensure oversight of the care of the animals on the farm.
“We cannot overstate how important it is that all farms be held to a high standard for the handling of animals in their care,” the board said in an announcement on its website.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a written statement that she was “shocked and extremely disappointed” about what she was told about the allegations at the farm. She said she has asked the Milk Marketing Board to ensure there is a “qualified observer” on site.
“It is of utmost importance that these animals receive proper care,” she said.
Popham said her ministry will work closely with the SPCA and the commodity board to identify any contraventions to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and to take whatever action is needed.
But SPCA CEO Craig Daniell said the agency is speaking out against the government and industry’s lack of action to protect animals on commercial farms in B.C.
“The BC SPCA is extremely concerned about the lack of accountability on commercial farms and has reached out repeatedly to the provincial government and industry for more than a year about the need for a third-party auditing system on farms to ensure that proper animal welfare practices are being upheld,” he said.
According to court documents, Cedar Valley Farms is a sole proprietorship owned by Cedarwal Farms. The two – along with a Chilliwack dairy farm and the BC Milk Marketing Board – were named in a 2017 civil lawsuit from the dairy-producing giant Saputo over tainted milk shipments.