Tag exemptions still stand: CFIA

Cattle producers are confused about amendments to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency’s tagging program.

The agency changed program regulations last September in response to the BSE crisis. One of the amendments called for the removal of a tagging exemption for animals moving to community pastures, exhibition sites and veterinary clinics.

That prompted the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration to issue letters to 4,000 patrons advising them to tag their animals before delivering them to community pastures this spring.

But pasture managers attending a one-day Stockperson’s School organized by the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan said they are getting calls from customers who have been told by CCIA officials that the proposed new rules have not yet become law.

Producers are hearing two messages from two agencies and pasture managers say they are caught in the middle, not knowing what to tell clients.

Alain Charette, spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, has the answer everybody is searching for. He said changes to the regulations have not yet been finalized so the exemption remains.

“It took longer than expected.”

Once the amendments are adopted there will be a “reasonable” transition and communication period before the new rules are enforced.

CCIA general manager Julie Stitt said producers should realize the rule changes are definitely coming, just not in May as originally anticipated.

“We figure it will probably be June until it is official.”

She encouraged ranchers to tag their animals but said they won’t be in noncompliance if they don’t, even if the amendments are passed while their untagged animals are in a community pasture.

“If they’ve sent them there in compliance they can come home in compliance even if the regulations changed in between.”

Stitt said producers, community pasture managers and crown lease operators expressed “major concern” over removal of the exemptions, wondering why the extra expense was necessary since the animals were coming back to the farm. But she said the added measures simply reflect a new reality in the cattle sector.

“Since BSE, everything has become rigid and (there will be) no more loopholes, whether it totally makes sense or not.”

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