The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is expected to release new rules governing animal movement this fall.
These regulations are part of the Canadian livestock traceability strategy that covers animal and premise identification, as well as movement.
“No one has seen the content of these proposed regulations but we don’t know for sure what is coming,” said Anne Brunet-Burgess, manager of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency.
Final publication could come next year with one year of soft implementation and fully enforced regulations after that.
The CFIA defines movement as when an animal is moved from a departure site to a destination site. The operator of the destination site is required to report the movement within seven days.
The number of animals, species, owner contact information, premise identifications and licence plate number of vehicle that transported the animals will be required.
“There is not going to be an official form that you fill out to travel,” Brunet-Burgess said at the Canada Beef Breed Council annual meeting March 28 in Calgary.
Movement can be reported on documents like a provincial manifest, electronic form on the phone or paperwork.
Fairs and exhibition operators will be responsible for recording the arrival and number of animals but some exceptions to reporting are expected for auction markets, assembly yards and community pastures.
Some ranchers have expressed concern about potential traceability requirements for cattle moving from farms to community pastures and back.
Investigation stemming from the 2016 discovery of bovine tuberculosis in Alberta was complicated by animals commingling in community pastures, giving rise to worry about regulatory changes.
Jenner, Alta., area rancher Brad Osadczuk said he hopes traceability changes won’t affect pasture use.
“They’re part of our operations and they’re not an option for a lot of folks. They’re part of our industry and kind of our community here and we have to utilize them,” he said.
In terms of traceability and its bearing on the TB investigation, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association vice-president Bob Lowe said better tracking wouldn’t have made much difference.
“I have heard that if we had more traceability, or all the things in place, things would have happened faster. I don’t believe that. I believe what we have works in Alberta, which is an ear tag, a brand … and manifests so you know where the cattle went. You don’t need a whole lot of other stuff.”
Brunet-Burgess said community pastures will not be completely exempt but less will be expected in terms of reporting.
It is already provincial law in Alberta for feedlots with more than 1,000 animals to report all new entrants.
To ease the paperwork, the cattle identification agency is developing a phone app that includes optical character recognition technology to report movement. This means a picture of movement documents can be taken and submitted. The agency is also working to make sure the system works in areas without cellular coverage.
The identification agency maintains databases for cattle, bison and sheep. Goats and cervids are expected to be added soon.
A large component of the traceability program is premises identification to indicate a land parcel where all farm animals are kept, assembled or disposed of.
Producer registration is not as advanced as it should be, said Brunet-Burgess, and these numbers are necessary to report movement.
Premise identification proved invaluable in Alberta and British Columbia in locating animals and their owners during last year’s wildfires.
“They are an essential tool on many levels,” she said.
As of last October, 77 percent of cattle operations in Canada, or 52,059 cattle premises, were registered with their provincial authorities.
These numbers must be included in a producer’s CCIA account. Only 26 percent of cattle accounts have notified the CCIA of their PID.
“When you do obtain a PID it takes a little bit of maintenance. That is the place to get hold of you for whatever reason and it important to keep your contact information current,” she said.
Questions for the CFIA may be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions for the cattle identification agency may be directed to 877-909-2333. For more information, visit Tags.canadaid.ca.