by SUSAN MANN
Dairy Farmers of Canada’s efforts to introduce a national traceability program and implement more parts of its national assurance program for dairy production got a huge boost today from the federal government with a total of almost $1 million in funding.
The funding announcement was made at a dairy farm in Cardinal, Ontario by Pierre Lemieux, parliamentary secretary to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, and Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown.
Dairy Farmers of Canada, the national policy and promotion organization representing Canada’s 12,529 dairy farmers, is getting $416,000 to design and implement a national traceability program for dairy cattle. The money will also be used to update standards for dairy farmers to meet traceability requirements, training and to help provincial associations implement the program at the farm level.
The federal government says in its March 21 press release traceability systems are a key element in helping to protect animals and people’s health and support food safety.
Thérèse Beaulieu, Dairy Farmers spokesperson, says parts of the traceability program are already in place, including ear tags for animals and each farm or other location where there are dairy cows, such as sales barns, has a premise identification number that’s recorded in a database. About 90 per cent of all Canadian farms have their premise identification number, while in Ontario “they’re all done already,” she says. The next step in the program is to implement the system for recording where each animal travels.
Federal regulations making it mandatory to record dairy animal movements will be coming out in 2015 or 2016, Beaulieu says. “Once the regulation is in place all the animals’ travel will have to be recorded in the database,” including cows that farmers bring to a dairy show, another farm or to a sales barn.
Dairy Farmers of Canada also received $529,000 in funding to implement three of the six components of its proAction initiative, which is the national assurance program for dairy production that demonstrates the dairy industry’s commitment to provide high quality, safe milk that’s produced responsibly. The three parts the funding is helping Dairy Farmers develop include animal care, biosecurity and milk quality. The other parts of proAction are: food safety (which is already being implemented through the dairy industry’s on-farm food safety program, Canadian Quality Milk), livestock traceability and environment.
Dairy Farmers has budgeted $83 million over 10 years to implement all six parts of its proAction initiative, Beaulieu says.
The proAction funding will be used for training for validators and to hold workshops for farmers on the animal welfare assessment program, updating the computer system being used for CQM to include the animal welfare assessment and to develop a biosecurity program. Dairy Farmers is doing a pilot project this fall on farms across Canada on its animal welfare assessment program. The animal welfare program will be introduced on farms in 2015.
The government money comes from the Assurance Systems part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing program, a five-year, up to $341 million program under Growing Forward 2. BF