The countdown is on for Manitoba beef producers to get a premise ID or risk being unable to ship cattle to feedlots.
The beef industry is one of several (including sheep and poultry) facing changes by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency within the next year. The CFIA has promised tighter controls over livestock traceability and movement reporting, including increased enforcement on manifests, a document which requires producers to have a premise ID for both shipping and receiving location, Manitoba Beef Producers is warning.
“It’s never been forced on them, so they’ve never had to actually go and register,” MBP general manager Brian Lemon said. “Now, what we’re trying to do is in a proactive way say, ‘Let’s do it ahead of being required to do it or being forced to do it.’”
Manitoba already requires a manifest any time producers transport livestock on public roads, including from one pasture to another if trailers are used. Despite that requirement, the rules, “have not had any active enforcement,” according to Lemon.
“Producers moving cattle into Saskatchewan, where there has been more enforcement, have become used to using manifests because, of course, as soon as they cross the border into Saskatchewan they are required to have one,” he said. “Those moving cattle just internally within Manitoba have been able to kind of get by without. That doesn’t mean the rule hasn’t been there all along.”
Lemon expects drivers will need a filled manifest in order to unload cattle at feedlots by as early as next year.
MBP estimates about 45 per cent of beef producers do not have a premise identification number, despite the program being in place for years. Prior to the provincial program, producers may have registered with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA). Provinces and territories have since taken over premise IDs, and the CCIA says many old numbers have been grandfathered into provincial programs. Transferred CCIA numbers will start with a territorial qualifier, such as “MB.”
Lemon advised producers with a new provincial premise ID to call the CCIA and confirm their ID is linked with their CCIA account, an account he says all members have as a result of the national ear tag program.
Manifests cost $3 per book of 10 through Manitoba Agriculture.
During MPB’s string of membership meetings in October and November, several producers pointed out that Saskatchewan does not charge for manifests. Lemon, however, argued out that Saskatchewan draws funds from check-off to pay for booklets, a cost that still rests with the producer.
There is no charge associated with getting a provincial premise ID.
“I think once people see that it’s not burdensome; it’s not onerous; it’s an easy one-page application [and] you can apply and get registered in a matter of minutes; I don’t think you’re going to see much push back,” Lemon said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says increased traceability is needed to track disease threats and avoid industry-wide crisis, such as Canada saw in 2003 with BSE. The agency also hopes to bolster its ability to track food safety issues and response to natural disasters such as fires and floods. The CFIA argues that knowing where livestock are will allow them to track impacted animals, measure industry impact and maintain access to markets.
The federal Health of Animals Regulations Act is slated for an upgrade in response to that need, the CFIA says.
“Canada’s livestock traceability system is a collaborative effort involving federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as livestock and poultry sectors,” the CFIA said. “A robust traceability system helps ensure we can continue to maintain Canada’s world-class reputation of producing safe and healthy food, which helps ensure a profitable agricultural sector.”
The industry will get its first look at the proposed changes next spring. The CFIA delayed its first draft, initially expected in fall 2017. The proposal will now appear in spring 2017 in the Canada Gazette.
The Manitoba Beef Producers has developed its own cattle identification plan, one which does not perfectly mesh with priorities the CFIA’s has already stated, Lemon added.
MBP is concerned that the CFIA may require farmers to note every animal individually when shipping. The producer group argues that reporting herd movements is more logistically manageable.
“A traceability program in their mind is about identifying every animal uniquely and tracking the movement of every animal uniquely,” Lemon said.
“We think groups of animals being reported is adequate.”
Manitoba Beef Producers will formally respond to the changes after they have been released in spring, Lemon said. MBP has warned, however, that having a large number of producers without a premise ID may strain the CFIA’s confidence that their industry can self-regulate.