by SUSAN MANN
The federal government should ensure mandatory livestock traceability doesn’t cost farmers a lot of money to implement before putting the system in place, says a beef industry spokesman.
Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, says farmers are concerned the system will include protocols that will add significant costs to the production system. “We share those concerns and have communicated that to our federal government.”
Even though the government has set a deadline of this year for the national livestock and poultry traceability system to be in place, Toews says the beef industry hasn’t stipulated a deadline for implementation.
Toews says while they recognize the merits of the traceability system, the association wants the federal government to pay attention to its recommendations. He says he thinks it will because there’s an underlying recognition by the federal government that it can’t bring a significant regulatory burden into the industry through mandatory traceability.
The cattlemen’s association recommends the next step in implementation include the installation of standardized premise identification across Canada. Toews says the identification systems in each province don’t have to be identical but “we certainly need an adequate, standardize premise identification across the country before we can start doing any meaningful movement tracking.”
Another request the association made is for farmers to have access to cost-effective, readily-available software.
When those two recommendations are in place, Toews says a reasonable next step would be that feedlots receiving more than 1,000 head a year could start recording the cattle moving into the feedlot.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz recently announced up to $20 million would be available during the next three years as part of a program to allow auction marts, assembly yards, feedlots, backgrounders, fairs and exhibitions, privately-managed community pastures and other high-risk, high-volume, co-mingling sites to update their facilities to buy equipment that would help identify and track individual animals. The program, called Livestock Auction Traceability Initiative, is accepting applications for projects starting April 1.
Agriculture Canada spokesman Joe Fishman says by email it’s a voluntary program that is available before regulations are introduced. It’s for anyone who sees a business opportunity in using traceability information or those who want to get a head start before regulations are in place. BF