Animal Health and Care Committee
The Animal Health and Care Committee is responsible for monitoring current issues and trends in animal health, care and welfare including federal legislation and regulation, activism, research and international bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the International Meat Secretariat. For both animal health and animal care, the committee advocates for regulations that are based on sound, current science and do not unnecessarily impede trade.
One of the Canadian beef industry’s greatest assets is the overall health and standards of care producers ensure for their livestock. This is achieved through good production practices and adherence to provincial and federal regulations. These efforts have resulted in improved market access and consumer confidence in Canadian beef and beef products world wide.
Animal health and care are fundamental issues that are continually presenting challenges and opportunities for the Canadian beef industry. Disease outbreaks, weather, regulatory reform and modernization, and innovations in health and welfare management systems add to the complexity experienced by Canada’s beef producers on a daily basis.
There were many challenges and opportunities specific to animal health and care in 2018. A selection of activity highlights is provided below.
Traceability continues to dominate discussions in CCA’s Animal Health and Care Committee with a pledge by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and affiliated organizations to implement full traceability in a cost effective and efficient manner without inhibiting commerce. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) expects to publish the proposed regulations in Canada Gazette I in early 2019. The CCA is a member of the CFIA-led Regulatory Implementation Committee and has been actively working with CFIA to ensure regulations adhere to the industry supported Cattle Implementation Plan and to ensure definitions within the regulations accurately reflect industry expectations.
The CCA has board representation on the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) board and the technical advisory committee to CCIA, and continues to work closely with CCIA in the implementation of pending traceability regulations specifically to movement tracking and reporting.
Antimicrobial resistance and use (AMR/AMU) continue to impact Canada’s beef cattle industry and the CCA continues to take a proactive approach to ensure industry moves in lock-step with global changes occurring in this area. Canada is a member of a global community addressing the issue of antimicrobial resistance in human and animal medicine. Everyone involved in human and animal health fields have a role to play in reducing the need for antimicrobials and when they are needed, using them prudently.
The CCA has communicated the changes made by Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Directorate on the regulatory and policy front. These include removing the claim for growth promotion from all products used in animal medicine that are medically important to human medicine; designating all products in Class I, II and III (human importance) as prescription only; establishing lists of veterinary products that can be imported for own use as well a list and requirements for importing active pharmaceutical ingredients; and initiating a process of antimicrobial use data collection beginning with the mandatory reporting of sales by drug manufacturers.
While these regulatory and policy changes will support Canada’s efforts to reduce and control antimicrobial resistance, cattle producers can contribute to the effort in the daily management of their herds through stewardship and good production practices. These include implementing prudent on-farm biosecurity protocols; establishing a herd health program with a veterinarian; and ensuring proper nutrition and housing. Reducing the need to treat animals with antimicrobials will contribute to the reduction of antimicrobial resistance.
Enrolling in programs like Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) can demonstrate to consumers that producers do take AMR/AMU seriously and are doing their part in preserving the effectiveness of antimicrobials for animals and humans.
The CCA is a founding member of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council and provides significant leadership to this organization. The Council is highly regarded in Canada’s animal health and welfare community for providing a pragmatic and balanced perspective to animal agriculture. The Council’s recommendations on a number of issues has the attention of the Council for Regulatory Assistant Deputy Ministers (FPT), and
industry stakeholders across Canada.
Most recently, the council has coordinated an industry-driven Animal Health Canada initiative to proactively address the real threat of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) outbreak. The vision is to build a model that helps drive action across a comprehensive and dynamic animal health strategy including priority areas of; disease surveillance, biosecurity, traceability, real-time diagnostic capacity, emergency response, vaccine development, storage and deployment, recovery planning, financial risk mitigation, animal health research, and regulatory modernization.
The proposed changes to Transportation of Animals regulations were published by the CFIA in Canada Gazette I in December 2016 and remains an important topic for
The proposed changes have reduced the maximum time mature and fed cattle will be allowed to be in transit without feed and water to 36 hours from 52 hours and to
12 hours from 18 hours for ruminants too young to be fed hay or grain. Changes to some definitions, rest stop duration and transfer of responsibility requirements have also been proposed.
Proper animal care and welfare is paramount in the beef industry and producers are continually improving their practices and updating standards to ensure the best life possible for their livestock. Outcomes for transported cattle are very positive. Research conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has found that 99.95 per cent of cattle on long hauls over four hours and 99.98 per cent of cattle on short hauls less than four hours reach their destination in good condition. Cattle producers want to ensure that any amended regulations do not inadvertently move this number farther away from 100 per cent.
The CCA also stressed that a more sector specific analysis needs be completed, as the outcomes, costs and benefits of the regulations are not representative of the cattle sector. Finally, the CCA emphasized that any regulatory change needs to be based on scientific evidence, use outcome-based guidelines that focus on the animal and are reflective of Canada’s unique geography, climate and transportation infrastructure.
The CFIA has indicated that the proposed regulations may be published in Canada Gazette Part II in early 2019. The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) has also begun the process to update the Code of Practice for Animal Transportation, which will continue into 2019.
The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was released in 2013. As part of NFACC’s code maintenance process, the beef cattle code of practice underwent a five-year review process in 2018. The review, which was conducted by a code technical panel, focused on progress on research priorities identified through the code development process. Additionally, the review assessed the code’s value and relevance from a number of stakeholder perspectives and also identified potential challenges that could be addressed in the next code update. Overall, the technical panel recommended that the code be reaffirmed, and the review concluded that the code is a valuable and practical document that promotes beef cattle welfare in Canada.
Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in a cow from British Columbia The CCA remains in close contact with the CFIA as they investigate a case of bTB. Although Canada enjoys bTB-free status, isolated cases do occur. The case, detected in late October, shows Canada’s surveillance system is working. The CFIA recognizes the serious impact of bTB on producers and the cattle industry and is working with the producers and provinces to take immediate action to control the disease and maintain Canada’s bTB-free status. We are pleased to see CFIA incorporating lessons learned from the Alberta case in 2016 and subsequent investigation, and working in close collaboration with B.C. Cattlemen’s Association. The CCA is communicating with CFIA on a regular basis and will update members of any developments impacting Canada’s trade status.
Cross Border Livestock Health is another key area of focus and CCA continues to work collaboratively on this file through the Pacific North West Economic Region – Cross-border Livestock Health Working Group. Progress on electronic certification for livestock, establishing a ‘preferred transporter’ program for trusted exporters-importers, implementing regulatory changes on the restricted feeder cattle program, disease zoning, and emergency preparedness planning were among the priority action items for 2018.
OIE for Negligible BSE Risk Status CCA has been actively collecting, categorizing and transferring historical BSE surveillance communication materials in preparation for Canada’s application to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for Negligible BSE Risk Status in 2020.
Committee Members: Pat Hayes, Co-chair, Reg Schellenberg, Co-chair; Grant Huffman, Miles Wowk, Gord Adams, Jason Reid, John MacDonald, Victor Oulton, Kirk Jackson, Dean Sentes, Brad Osadczuk, YCC ex-officio. CCA staff: Brady Stadnicki, David Moss.
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