Breeders irked by plan to revoke pedigree act

Livestock breeders say government sanctioned credentials give them market credibility

A federal government proposal to repeal the Animal Pedigree Act has received two thumbs down from animal breeders.

Producers discussed the 105-year-old act during the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation annual meeting in Calgary April 5.

A near unanimous vote opposed revoking the act, which was last amended in 1988.

The livestock records corporation administers the pedigree act and could also be in jeopardy if the act was revoked.

The private, not for profit organization handles the registration of purebred animals from 50 species, including bison, beef cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, foxes, donkeys, mules and dogs.

About 100,000 animals were registered last year.

The corporation also maintains records for purebred animals that aren’t handled by an incorporated association.

As well, it handles embryo certificates and changes of ownership for registered animals and embryos, charging a fee for every transaction.

Agriculture Canada provided few details for the change, but John Ross, director of the department’s animal industry division, said the government’s overall approach is to cut costs and get out of the business of doing business.

“There is a philosophy that perhaps the government of Canada is involved in too many things,” he said.

The government is reviewing various acts and is trying to decide if it should still oversee the administration of livestock pedigrees.

He said the act may be too restrictive for modern times and technology.

Ross also said it is not a good use of government time to review annual reports, bylaw changes and financial statements of every association.

Money spent administering the Animal Pedigree Act takes away funds from other projects such as animal health, welfare and biotechnology, he added.

“Finding staff is not the problem,” he said. “Finding the budget to pay them is.”

Ross said the act costs $200,000 per year to administer.

David Bailey of Genome Alberta and a registered Percheron breeder said the money is well spent because the purebred livestock sector generates $250 million in imports and exports.

“For $200,000, we have a system that is working beautifully,” he said.

Those at the meeting argued they need a government sanctioned pedigree to give their organizations credibility in domestic and international markets.

Government certification pedigrees are proven records of bloodlines and give buyers assurances of an animal’s family tree.

Sheep breeder and exporter Peggy Newman defended the status quo. “We are the envy of the whole world for our pedigrees. If it is not broken, don’t fix it,” she said.

Breed association representatives said government certified pedigrees are one way to manage genetic improvement, although Ross said others have managed without an act to govern their activities.

Hog and poultry breeders and groups such as Beefbooster have successfully kept records and made improvements without an umbrella type act.

Others said small associations would either not be able to continue or divide into small, less credible splinter groups without an act.

Many of the smaller organizations are volunteer run and aren’t able to keep records and performance information in the same way that a livestock record corporation does.

The breed associations are incorporated under the act, but Ross said they could register under other legislation or follow voluntary rules if the act was changed.

Ross said his department wants to meet with groups before a decision is made, even though he agreed there is considerable opposition from breeders to getting rid of the act.

The government is expected to meet with dairy associations later this month, and Ross promised further meetings could be held.

“We are at the point of harvesting ideas, not telling you what we think,” said Ross.

  • Laurie Maus

    As a breeder of purebred, rare breed livestock I rely on the Animal Pedigree Act to maintain the integrity of both the Associations and breed registries. Rare breeds would suffer the most by loss of this Act. A cost of $200,000 per year is money well spent for the multi million dollar industry this Act supports. This is definitley a case of “penny wise, pound foolish”.

  • Rita

    Without the Animal Pedigree Act there will be no credible registry for livestock. This is a terrible mistake & one we can never fix once done.

  • Roxanne

    This Act has given us consistency, credibility and representation for everyone in Canada since 1905. They will spend more than $200,000 on trying to sway people to repeal an Act that no one wants repealed, except perhaps large agricorporations promoting transgenic – i.e. genetically manipulated livestock which don’t fit under the APA.
    .
    It costs less to administer this Act than some senator’s travel claims. This isn’t about cost to administer, it’s about putting control in the hands of big business.

  • rick

    We breed multiple purebred registered breeds/species, and we only own purebred registered stock, no commercial stock. And the pedigree act is what helps to keep people honest, and other countries coming here for genetics, they are confident in the way our pedigree act is followed/enforced. Without the pedigree act, 100 years of purebred pedigree will be likely lost due to the “dishonest” behavior of some individuals, which could totally dissolve some of the smaller rare breeds organizations, and everyone’s trust would be gone out the window, as one mans hand shake doesn’t mean what it used to. Every purebred organization whom is governed by the pedigree act is proud of it, Canada likely has the best genetics in the world because we go to extremes to keep our pedigrees pure and proven. $200,000 is money well spent, after all, if we cannot keep our pedigree act up and running, who will be willing to buy/ or export our purebred breeding stock on a hand shake agreement on purity of pedigree?

  • Julie

    I think it should also be noted how much of the bill the producers themselves are already covering… CLRC registered over 100 000 animals, so the $200 000 of government funds covers $2/ animal. Given that there are over 10 000 members of CLRC, each paying an annual membership fee ($25?) and the fact that members pay at least $10 per registration, the government is recuperating the $2 per head back from the HST we pay for registrations. If my math is correct, it is paying for itself anyway! Why on earth would they get rid of it?

  • Doreen

    The bison industry in Canada is in the process of encouraging producers to register animals that are either pure Plains or pure Woods. Part of the reason for this is to prove to people trying to have them listed as endangered that there are enough animals to keep the breeds viable. If the endangered listing pushers triumph, then raising bison as an industry could become endangered. Should a $200,000 cost, which appears to be covered by industry payments anyway, be a threat to such a viable, important industry? Without bison ranchers, there might well not be enough bison left in North America to keep them alive as a species.

  • Jake

    For heaven’s sake let the DOGS go!! Canines are not “livestock”, and to boot the APA gives the CKC a monopoly. Why not CATS too?