Federal Ag Critic on Drought in Western Canada, CFIA Animal Traceability Rules

The talk of drought on the Canadian Prairies has been everywhere, from the municipal level, to provincial, and even federal.

Federal Agriculture Critic, and Alberta Conservative MP for the Foothills constituency , John Barlow acknowledged farmers and ranchers in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have been feeling anxiety.

“I know a lot of the municipalities have declared a state of disaster…they’ll be looking for AgriRecovery funding to help these producers get through this,” Barlow said.

Saskatchewan requested the federal government to assess AgriRecovery, and Barlow says it’s something Ottawa will “have to negotiate with the provinces to step up and ensure that these farmers remain economically viable.”

“It’s not as bad as it was two years ago but some areas are pretty hard hit,” Barlow added.

Another issue that’s been a source of anxiety is the animal traceability regulations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Groups and venues that host roping, rodeos and 4-H beef shows are required to report on livestock that had been on-site.

Barlow says no resolution has been made at this time. He’s heard of the CFIA being at a fair in Nova Scotia enforcing these rules, and heard from the High River Agriculture Society that they don’t have the volunteers needed to take on the new regulations.

“The CFIA had staff on-site and were checking tags and checking forms, so sort of laying the ground work for what is coming and it did send a bit of anxiety through the show, especially a lot of young 4-H’ers were unsure of what to do and were quite anxious about the potential of being in contravention of these new rules, so this is exactly what we were worried about is the impact this was going to have on shows and our rural communities.” he said of what happened in Nova Scotia.

Critics say putting the onus on volunteers to track animal movement is not feasible. He says the Canadian Cattle Association and other livestock groups feel the rules are unnecessary and will be more harmful than good.

“We got some time, we’re still going to push for this to be amended and hopefully scrapped altogether. The CFIA has got bigger problems and bigger fish to fry, and when their resources are stretched as thinly as they are, it just doesn’t make sense to be taking on additional responsibilities, certainly when there are much bigger issues for them to be focusing on.”

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