When’s the last time you had a veterinarian onfarm to discuss your production practices?
Manitoba veterinarians are pleased to participate in new federal-provincial programs that offer the province’s livestock producers on-farm herd assessments paid for by the Growing Forward Food Safety Program for Farms.
These programs, developed in conjunction with livestock producer groups and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, help producers evaluate and improve on-farm food safety and biosecurity. Two programs are currently available to producers: beef herd biosecurity assessment and dairy herd Johne’s risk assessment. A similar program for sheep, goat, bison and elk producers should be available in the near future.
Representatives from the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association (MCPA) were instrumental in putting the beef herd assessment program into action.
“We feel this program will continue to strengthen the producers’ relationships with local veterinarians,” said Trevor Atchison with the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association. “We helped create a program that gives producers access to experts who can answer questions and identify opportunities for advancement.”
The Manitoba veterinary community sees this program as an opportunity to create or re-establish relationships with livestock producers.
“We know there are situations where producers may want to contact veterinarians for advice, but due to financial concerns, they haven’t called.
“We hope producers use this program to book an appointment for us to come to their farms. In this way, we can see their concerns first hand and quickly address them. We can also provide guidance on animal health and on farm food safety issues that might not be obvious,” said Dr. Marc Philippot, a veterinarian practising in St. Claude, Man., and a councillor with the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA).
He added that all farm-specific information gathered as part of an assessment remains with each producer for their own consideration. The information is not shared.
The federal/provincial Growing Forward Food Safety Program for Farms pays veterinarians directly for the onfarm visits. Farms are unidentifiable by way of an assigned herd number that veterinarians use when reporting back to government.
Mani toba producers are eligible for direct funding from Growing Forward if they implement national on-farm food safety programs. Eligible programs include the Verified Beef Production Program and the Certified Quality Milk Program. These programs can be acces sed through local Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives GO offices and address on-farm food safety, biosecurity and traceability.
“We encourage producers to take advantage of these veterinary visits,” said Ian Wishart, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers. “They are an excellent opportunity to tap into veterinarians’ expertise to help improve overall herd health that can lead to improved profitability.”
Producers wishing to participate in the herd assessment programs can contact their local veterinarian to make an appointment for an on-farm visit.