Opposing views | The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association says the province is lagging in mandatory traceability, but the Stock Growers Association wants to keep it voluntary
ASSINIBOIA, Sask. — Saskatchewan’s main cattle group says premises identification should be mandatory, but the agriculture minister is sticking with a voluntary process for now.
The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, which represents all cattle producers who pay check-off levies when they market their cattle, has asked that mandatory premises ID be implemented as part of the national traceability system.
Most other provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, require producers to register a premises ID.
“We have been lagging behind,” said SCA chair Mark Elford at a recent district meeting.
However, Lyle Stewart says not all producers agree with the SCA board.
The membership-based Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association still prefers a voluntary approach, he added.
“We’re still holding to the premise, if you will, that premises ID at least for the time being is to be voluntary,” Stewart said.
The ministry has pledged to provide education and awareness, and Stewart said the process will work as the industry becomes more familiar with the system and more producers sign on voluntarily.
“I think there will be a time when compliance is 100 percent,” he said.
Producers at the Assiniboia meeting noted that new electronic manifests have a field for a premises ID number.
However, Saskatchewan producers can leave that field blank.
Elford told the meeting he was encouraged that Saskatchewan had at least taken Alberta up on an offer to test its database.
Roy White, assistant director of legislative services in the provincial livestock branch, said in an interview analysis has been underway since June and is almost complete.
Most of the work centered on the technological aspects of the database. Officials are also looking at systems from other provinces.
White said the provinces’ commitments to national traceability require them to have a system in which the information can be validated. This means the system must be able to prove that data such as producer contact information and geographic location is correct.
“Right now it can’t be,” White said.
“Although Saskatchewan producers typically registered with the CCIA (Canadian Cattle Identification Agency), the CCIA system doesn’t validate the PIDs once they’re in there.”
About 5,900 Saskatchewan producers have registered with the CCIA, and officials have said they intend to make the transition to a new system easy.
A producer at the Assiniboia meeting who also has cattle in B.C., said her CCIA-registered premises ID, a land location number, went directly to the provincial database at the time of age verification.
However, there are times that wouldn’t work, said provincial cattle analyst Grant Zalinko. For example, Canadian Western Agribition would not have a land location.
Still, the system will remain voluntary until the minister gives the go-ahead.
White said he believes that is the correct approach.
“The real beauty of traceability in the long run will be when producers adopt it on its own merits without a government or a regulation telling them that they have to do it,” he said.
The compliance rate isn’t 100 percent even where premises ID registration is mandatory, he said
However, other industries, such as hog processors, are now requiring premises ID, and White said he can see the day when it will be needed by all livestock species and perhaps even crop producers.
“I think essentially in the long run it will be the marketplace that requires everybody to have a PID and report that PID when cattle are moved as a matter of good practice,” he said.