By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has proposed more in-depth tracking of animals when it comes to local community ag events.
Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, argues this is unnecessary.
“Our agricultural societies are in every community, and they work with a lot of different events, a lot of different kinds of events in our communities,” said Shields. “They could be rodeo, but they could be all sorts of festivals, and things that are going on in our communities. Years ago the Canadian Food Inspection Agency brought up the idea of tracking animals. Now in the livestock industry when you’re talking pork, when you’re talking cattle animals are merely tag registered when they move all those registrations from the producers those animals are followed. Tracking is a great idea, in the sense of implement it to deal with any kind of disease that might occur and so they are important because we move livestock. But what they’re talking about now is that if you have an agricultural event in your community — let’s say there’s a rodeo that happened in your community. There’s sheep, there’s different types of cattle, there’s horses. What they’re asking now is the ag society be responsible for recording every number on every animal that is brought to that event and submitted immediately to the CFIA. Most of the agricultural societies, one end of this country to another, to the other festivals, whatever they are they have animals, but they’re run by volunteers. The volunteers will be required to ensure that they have (recorded). The people that have those animals they’ve already recorded that. The CFIA knows all those numbers, but now they’re duplicating this when it comes to agricultural events, and most of those organizations are volunteers. It is going to be very time consuming. It’s very hard for those volunteer ag societies to deal with the registration of every animal that comes on the property.”
From here, Shields went into greater detail of just how much this change could drastically affect local ag societies in the province.
“I talk to the guys about Calgary Stampede, and if you’ve been to the Calgary Stampede they do a great job with all sorts of agriculture,” said Shields. “Now they have other kinds (of animals) in there, birds of different kinds, so those birds who are not normally tagged would have to have some kind of tag put on with a number. Usually they would put it on the leg with a bird, but then they would have to record those on any fowl that’s ever on the property. This is huge, I work with the Alberta Ag Society (AAAS) we got this information out to every ag society. Ag societies are saying this is a real problem for us. I’ve talked to mayors and reeves with information getting out because they realize this is going to be a challenge in their community for festivals, events, because there’s a lot of movement. We all believe in safe inspections, and animals (have) that, but this is a duplication that we believe it’s not needed. This is a challenge, because if they put this in place it affects any kind of event — which includes 4-H by the way, but across the country from Newfoundland to BC, and into the north. Anything that might happen where there’s any kind of livestock of any kind the volunteers are going to have to record, number, and if they don’t have a number on them they’ve got to put a tag number on them, and information needs to be immediately sent to the CFIA.”