by DIANNE FETTERLY
New national biosecurity standards for the grains and oilseed industry could be a useful tool for farmers, provided it remains on a voluntary basis.
“It’s not a bad idea to have a plan in place in time of need. . . Something farmers can refer to,” said Grain Farmers of Ontario CEO Barry Senft. “However, it needs to remain voluntary. Farmers do what is right and if a need is identified then they will do what is necessary.”
St. Isidore-area cash crop farmer Markus Haerle agrees.
“It’s good to have the protocol in place,” said Haerle, who operates a 1,500-acre farm with his wife Roxane. The couple grows corn, soybeans and wheat on their eastern Ontario farm.
“If there ever is a problem, then it’s easy to trace back and correct it. And if you can narrow the problem down to a certain source or area, then action can be taken and it won’t affect the whole food chain,” he explained.
Haerle, who also runs a licensed grain elevator and has 16,000 laying hens, said he’s already following similar standards for his egg operation.
“Once the practice is in place, you’re just following the plan. It becomes something you do as part of your management practices . . . almost like bookkeeping,” he explained.
Haerle added that it’s better for producers, however, if the standards remain voluntary. When such things are legislated, people become scared and some are less willing to adapt. It will take some time and the help of organizations like GFO to get everyone on board, he said.
Haerle is the Grain Farmers director representing Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
“Farmers have to provide the best quality product and if everyone doesn’t follow similar standards, then it affects us all,” he said.
He also noted that since the new biosecurity standards apply to all of Canada, then it may be necessary to tailor them to specific areas. For example, standards may work here in Ontario, where grain corn is widely grown; but may not be right for Western Canada where wheat is more common.
According to a press release by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standards for the Grains and Oilseeds Industry is aimed at assisting farmers in the fight against pests and diseases on the farm by minimizing the risks of pests entering the farm in first place and spreading to neighboring farms.
It claims the biosecurity standards are applicable to all types and sizes of farming operations.
Developed by the CFIA and Canada Grain Council over a two year period with industry input, the standards are divided into four specific areas including: the entry of pests to the farm; the movement of pests on the farm; exit of pests from the farm; and the management process. BF