Report slams Canada’s livestock traceability system

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As Executive Director of CCIA from 1998 to 2008 I have to agree with the majority of your comments as they relate to the last number of years. I am pleased to see that you have identified a number of issues and provided information in regards to potential enhancements to the national system and am as well very disappointed in the lack of progress. Just to provide a bit more clarification it should be noted that CCIA was implemented in 1998 (with Regulations coming into effect in 2001) with foresight from our industry leaders, as an animal identication trace back system to protect our livestock industry in Canada for animal health and food safety. It was developed at a time when only about 50% of the herd was even tagged. In an effort to obtain critical buy in and support from our producers across Canada the system had to be simple and cost-effective. We were successful and ultimately were prepared to help protect our industry in 2003 when BSE hit. The system was built to add on and facilitate additional traceability and value-chain initiatives as the demand increased. We developed the entire trace back database and infrastructure for less than 4M dollars and our annual operating budget was under 1M dollars (not 20M) until the time of my departure in 2008. Your 20M dollar annual cost shocked me as well! We also charged a .20 cent tag administration fee right up until 2008 to fund the agency which was increased to .60 cents soon after my departure. Also as of 2008 we had over 400M records in our database and had incorporated the functionality for full animal movement tracking and had a significantly populated Premises ID system in place. Our system was internationally recognized and became the prototype for the development of other systems around the world. We also housed the Wisconsin ID system, pork Premises system, animal health company value add systems, and ID systems for beef, bison and sheep in Canada. My hope was that we would build on this infrastructure and work with industry to facilitate traceability and value-chain initiatives as required. Also in regards to your Australian comments, we did work with Australia and shared information in regards to our database design, technology etc . in an effort to facilitate global standardization and efficiency. Also we do need to keep in mind that Australia did have more of an incentive and direct cost benefit to forge ahead with more of a mandatory, full traceability system. Even though we do need to be moving forward nationally, we also need to consider that the incentives for a more complete traceability system vary and are different in Quebec as compared to the rest of Canada. I am as well extremely disappointed that it appears there is inertia, lack of progress, and minimal cost-benefit.with CCIA currently...especially in consideration of the dollars spent in the last 6 years, the positive state of the industry, and the demand for value chain, sustainability, and traceability. However, as we move forward it will still be extremely important, in an effort to ensure long term success and international recognition, that the system remains National in scope, is cost effective and industry sustainable. Every sector of our livestock industry, especially the grass roots producer, needs to benefit and support the expansion of our national ID and traceability system as we progress.

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