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KAP delegates raise flag over biosecurity breaches

Farmers cite incidents of provincial inspectors, hydro meter readers bypassing inspection stations

Anyone entering a restricted area of a livestock farm can increase the risk of spreading diseases farm to farm.

It’s why farms have biosecurity measures in place and producers are vigilant to limit those coming and going on it.

But as district representatives at Keystone Agriculture Producers’ spring meeting point out, some provincial government personnel appear unaware of why these precautions are in place.

District 4 delegate Kevin Stott relayed a story at the April 6 meeting of a farmer discovering Workplace Safety and Health officers entering the farmyard to conduct an inspection, reportedly without taking the proper precautions. He was very concerned about his sow barn after learning they’d just been on another farm, Stott said.

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“If we let something like that go it could cost not only us but the province millions,” he said.

“It’s not only what you might bring into the barn. But if you’re walking into a site that has PEDV and walk back off to go to another site you are the person transferring it.”

Others at the KAP meeting said they’ve witnessed similar disregard for biosafety protocols and bypassing of inspection stations by Manitoba Hydro meter readers who are travelling farm to farm.

The matter is so concerning, KAP delegates passed a resolution calling on their farm group to lobby the province to require all government staff to first obtain permission before entering any restricted areas at any livestock farm.

“These protocols are in place for a reason,” Stott said. “We’d hope that they could train and make all their employees knowledgeable about why biosecurity is in place. ”

The resolution was among 10 passed at the spring meeting April 6 at Portage la Prairie.

Another related to rail transportation, calling on KAP to lobby the federal government, railways and grain companies to identify and fix existing bottlenecks in the grain transportation system.

KAP delegates also supported a resolution asking Manitoba to create a specific division of Manitoba Infrastructure to support provincially regulated short line railways and develop new opportunities for them similar to the program in effect in Saskatchewan. The resolution additionally calls on KAP to lobby Transport Canada for funding to support infrastructure projects along short lines.

Short line railways provide farmers with important grain-shipping alternatives, delegates said.

“Saskatchewan has a program for this and I see no reason why Manitoba shouldn’t,” added KAP president Dan Mazier who said he was pleased to see this resolution brought forward.

Other resolutions ask KAP to push for a full review of municipal and educational tax formulas to reduce the imbalance between farmland and residential properties, and for a complete ban on night hunting. There was also debate around the need for the province to turn over routine maintenance of provincial gravel roads to municipalities and another resolution calling on KAP to make more use of communications technology such as Twitter to improve communication with KAP members as well as the general public.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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