by SUSAN MANN
The mandatory national pig traceability system became effective July 1 but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be taking a soft approach to enforcement for up to a year after that date when dealing people who can’t produce their pig movement records, says a spokesman.
Andrew Armstrong, the CFIA’s animal transportation identification coordinator for the Ontario area, told participants in an Ontario Pork telephone town hall meeting Friday on pig traceability the agency’s soft enforcement actions will include education and warning/information letters. “We will be starting in the Ontario area with information letters. We’ll be sending information packages out if somebody doesn’t have their animals identified properly.”
That will graduate to a “letter of non compliance,” he adds, noting the agency is giving industry time to get used to the new requirements.
The new traceability requirements make it mandatory for all pig farmers and pig custodians, such as auction markets, transporters and breeders, to properly identify, keep records and report the movements of pigs under their care and control from birth or import to slaughter or export, CFIA says in a July 2 news release. Anyone who fails to meet the requirements could “be subject to enforcement actions, such as warnings, fines and prosecution.”
The Canadian Pork Council, through PigTrace Canada, is the administrator of the pig traceability system, while CFIA’s role is to enforce the identification requirements.
Jeff Clark, PigTrace Canada program manager, says provincial members, such as Ontario Pork, “help with the flow-through of the program from the national level.”
Clark also outlined the various identification requirements and movement records needed to comply with the new law. For farm-to-farm movements of animals that aren’t sows or boars, no animal identification is needed. Those include movements of weanlings, nursery pigs, feeder pigs and gilts. “For the purposes of this program, we treat gilts as feeder pigs,” he says.
There are two types of animal identification. One is the official government-approved ear tags that are only available through PigTrace. There are two forms of tags – one has an individual identification number that’s a unique number for each pig and no other pig around the world would have that same official number. The other form of animal identification is called a ‘herd mark,’ which bears the same five-digit number for every pig coming out of a facility.
The individual ID is only available as an ear tag while the herd mark “can be ordered from us as an ear tag but it can also go on as a shoulder slap tattoo as it has done for many years for market hogs and for anything going to slaughter, such as culled sows, lightweights or barbeque pigs,” he says.
For export movements of weanlings and feeder pigs, Clark says the herd mark number can be used either as an ear tattoo or on small herd mark tags, which are made specifically for exports can be purchased through PigTrace. Traceability program officials negotiated for older forms of identification to be accepted until Oct. 31 and the United States Department of Agriculture seems to be fine with that, Clark notes. But “it’s really up to border official at the port of entry” whether those older forms of identification will actually be accepted.
Clark says they are circulating a memo to accredited veterinarians and other officials outlining the changes and the suggested timeframe to allow the transition “so border officials know there will be a combination potentially on the same load of the older CFIA-issued numbers and the new forms of ID with our herd mark as an ear tattoo or tag.”
For pig movement reporting, both the shipper and receiver are required to report the source and destinations of the movements, the license plates of the trailer unit and “we recommend tractor unit as well if it’s tandem (but this isn’t required under the new law),” the number of pigs and the date and time of loading or unloading, he explains.
Pigs requiring an individual identification ear tag and that 15-digit number has to be reported as part of the animal’s movement include:
• Ones going to a fair, exhibition or auction.
• Ones going through an assembly yard and going anywhere but slaughter.
• A farm-to-farm movement of a sow or a boar used in breeding.
For everything else, there is the option of using the individual identification ear tag or the herd mark, he says, noting that includes pigs being exported that aren’t weanlings or feeder pigs.
“There are no ID requirements for animals going directly to slaughter to the United States,” he says. But if the pigs are going through an assembly yard, Clark notes farmers should put “some form of ID on them.”
Imports must have individual identification tags applied before the animals enter Canada or once they get to their destination in Canada, he says. The ID number must be reported as part of the movement.
CFIA says in its news release the aspects of the traceability system, such as record keeping and animal identification, help the agency identify and locate animals throughout the supply chain from birth to slaughter. Those measures are useful for targeting specific animals in animal health emergencies.
Clark says traceability is about “giving a certain amount of security and safeguards to our industry so if something does happen we have a reliable information system we can call upon quickly to do a trace back and identify priority sites. The quicker we can get whatever disease or food safety issue out of the landscape, the quicker we can get back to making money.” BF