Thanks to the leadership of a third-generation family business, 300,000 more pigs in Ontario and Quebec have been raised in a crate-free environment, where they can move around freely, forage for hay and express their natural behaviours.
In 2015, duBreton – a leading provider of organic and Certified Humane pork in Canada – made the commitment to invest more than $30-million over three years so an additional 300,000 pigs could live crate-free. The company reached that ambitious target in September.
“When you move away from commodity farming, you need three times the space,” says president Vincent Breton. “We’re building the infrastructure to meet the rigorous requirements for organic, Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership certification. Our pigs are not raised in cages, so we don’t use the farrowing and gestational crates you find in commodity-based and conventional farms.”
Mr. Breton firmly believes that organic farming that puts animal welfare first is not only better for the animals but will ensure the survival of small family farms. While conventional animal production facilities typically have up to 15,000 pigs under one roof, the largest farm in duBreton’s network is home to just 550 animals. Given the economies of scale, that can make it challenging for small farmers to compete economically against large corporate players.
“There has been so much consolidation in this industry,” says Mr. Breton. “One of our goals has been to do what we can to support family farms. Following a natural and organic model aligns with our values and offers them a way to be sustainable.”
When you move away from commodity farming, you need three times the space. Our pigs are not raised in cages, so we don’t use the farrowing and gestational crates you find in commodity-based and conventional farms.— Vincent Breton president, duBreton
Paul Pletsch is the manager of Jones Feed Mill, which supplies many of duBreton’s farmers in Ontario with certified organic feed. He’s well connected to the producers in duBreton’s network of family farms and speaks highly of the company’s commitment to practices that benefit animals, consumers and farmers.
“DuBreton is very concerned about the supply chain and wants to make sure everyone is making a reasonable return,” says Mr. Pletsch. “Producers in their network are paid on a cost-of-production basis, rather than being at the whim of a fluctuating commodity market. That provides more stability so farmers can maintain a home life and don’t have to take a second job to supplement their farming income.”
“We are a family company competing against the giants,” says Mr. Breton. “We’re working hard to save family farms and promote another way of doing business – and we’re meeting consumers’ growing desire to support organic, sustainable agricultural practices that are good for animals and fair to farmers.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.