By Jacqueline Johnson, AAg, Agriculture Programs Specialist, Prince Albert
Animal welfare is incredibly important when it comes to production, but making animal welfare and biosecurity improvements can be costly. Programs like the Assurance System Producer Rebate provide financial assistance for producers who are making these upgrades.
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the Assurance System Producer Program provides dairy producers a 50 per cent rebate on eligible biosecurity and animal welfare improvements, to a maximum of $15,000. Vandenbrink Dairyfarms is one operation that was able to use the program and receive a rebate on new equipment to improve animal welfare in their operation.
The Vandenbrink family immigrated to Canada from Holland and started a family dairy operation near Saskatoon in 2005. They currently milk 230 dairy cows, allowing them to meet the program’s gross farm income requirement of $50,000.
In order to access funding under the Assurance System Producer Program for dairy operations, the Vandenbrink family had to ensure certain eligibility factors were met.
Firm believers in the importance of safe handling techniques and superior animal welfare, the Vandenbrink family received their proAction certification through the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The proAction program is a requirement for Canadian dairy farmers that ensures responsible milk production through ongoing training and audits. In addition to showing the family’s commitment to the quality and safety of their product, the proAction certification demonstrated their dedication to continually improving their animals’ welfare and environmental stewardship. A premises identification (PID) number, one of the three pillars in livestock traceability, is also required to become proAction certified. Both of these steps were required in order to access funding from the Assurance System Producer Rebate program.
Finally, Vandenbrink Dairyfarms worked with their veterinarian to determine what equipment was needed to enhance their facility and improve their animals’ welfare. This was also an important step in order to access funding. Their veterinarian downloaded the Biosecurity/Animal Welfare Equipment Recommendation Report and took it with her to the dairy. She then completed her report electronically and provided a copy to the Vandenbrink family to be submitted with their application. The Biosecurity/Animal Welfare Equipment Recommendation Report is valid for two years from the date of the veterinarian assessment.
Based on their veterinarian’s recommendation, Vandenbrink Dairyfarms purchased an automatic calf feeder, which was eligible for the 50 per cent rebate. They completed and mailed the application, along with all necessary receipts, invoices and documentation, to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Programs Branch for processing.
“It was a straightforward process. We were already proAction certified and had a PID in place so it was just a matter of proving the gross farm income and having the veterinarian assessment completed,” explains Henk Vandenbrink. “It was really easy to fill out the application form. We were able to communicate with the program team via email to answer any questions they had about the application or the project.”
Applications must be received by December 31, 2022, in order to qualify for rebates.
To learn more about the Assurance Systems Producer Program for dairy operations, please contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 to be connected with your local agriculture programs specialist, or visit Assurance System Producer Program .