CLIA Distributes New Draft Documents for Member Feedback

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2059. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 13 February 2006
clock icon 8 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2059

The Canadian Livestock Identification Agency (CLIA), the umbrella organization coordinating the development of a national multi-species identification and traceability system for Canadian livestock, has circulated three draft documents to its members for feedback. The documents outline the structure and operation of the proposed system and include a draft strategic plan, a draft standards and performance target document and a draft memorandum of understanding.

CLIA Brings Together Industry Stakeholders on Traceability in Canada

“The Canadian Livestock Identification Agency provides the forum for discussion on what we’re doing and how we’re moving ahead with traceability,“ states CLIA Vice Chair Dennis McKerracher. “Past that, it’s the forum where the different commodity groups agree on doing certain things and having certain roles and responsibilities.“

“The strategic plan outlines the activities and goals that need to be achieved, the platform for members to reach consensus on, the stakeholders, and basically looking at the planning, the policy and the activities,“ explains McKerracher.

“The standards and performance document contains some critical information. It serves to lay out the platform for what would be the minimum for traceability for all species in Canada. It looks at premises identification and registration. It looks at how animals will be identified. It looks at reportable movements. It also gives a time line for implementation target dates, so when each species is expected to have traceability up and running in their commodity group.“

“The third document is basically an agreement of the roles and responsibilities of having a membership in the Canadian Livestock Identification Agency. It’s an agreement to cooperate and to move forward putting traceability in place in Canada.“

Agency Membership Provides Broad Representation

The Canadian Livestock Identification Agency board of directors includes representatives of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA), National Livestock Identification for Dairy (NLID), Canadian Pork Council (CPC), Canadian Bison Association (CBA), Canadian National Goat Federation, Canadian Sheep Federation, Equine Canada, Canadian Meat Council (CMC), Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ), Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC), and Can-Trace. Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) represent the federal government and provincial governments are also at the table.

Strategic Plan Focuses on Responsibilities and Goals

“The main document that has come out is the strategic plan,“ says CLIA General Manager Mike Dexter. “We’ve been working on it for quite some time and it’s been put forward to the board and had changes and bits added.“

The strategic plan received final approval from the board January 31.

“Members are now taking it back for comments from their organizations,“ Dexter says. “But essentially it paves the way for us for future activities and what we've got to achieve.“

He explains, “This is a 50 odd page document and it contains 21 goals so it's very detailed. It revolves around a number of areas. Obviously it revolves around how we see the structure of the industry in terms of traceability, how the different organizations relate to the central service for traceability. It documents goals that we should achieve in terms of defining the relationships and responsibilities between industry partners and governments both federal and provincial, it defines goals around our responsibility in terms of meeting international standards and requirements.“

Dexter expects, “The feedback on the strategic plan will take a little time because we've got to wait for the other groups to have their board meetings. They will review it, their staff and then their people will review these documents. Obviously most of them will have board meetings over the next two or three months so we’re hoping to have that all in within a couple of months, three months at the outside.“

Standards Document Outlines Traceability Structure

Dexter continues, “The standards document deals with the components of a traceability system. When we talk of a traceability system for Canada, I think, we need to realize as well that there are a number of organizations that are already involved in delivering ID and traceability. We have the CCIA which has a national system that represents a number of species already. That’s an ID system that they’re developing and are involved in adding the movement tracking components to that. We have ATQ in Quebec. We have a number of other initiatives at provincial levels. When we look at traceability in Canada it’s going to involve all those organizations and systems.“

Dexter stresses, “The standards document is really a reference document providing those standards that those organizations and systems should meet. They’re not bound to species specific issues. This is more the common components for all species.“

Although the standards document is also being circulated for feedback, Dexter expects that to take a little more time. “It is a little bit of a slow process because part of it is building the consensus and when you have so many organizations involved it does take time,“ he says.

“One of the things we’ve got to be aware of is that some species groups are much further ahead than other species groups in terms of the development of their systems and where they’re at in terms of their own strategies and planning for traceability. You don’t want to slow the ones that have moved ahead and you really want to bring the other ones up to the same level in terms of their understanding and terms of vision for the future so it takes a little time,“ Dexter explains.

MOU Outlines Member Roles and Responsibilities

The final document of the three is the draft memorandum of understanding. “It’s a very rough draft at this stage,“ says Dexter. “It’s purely a discussion document. Again, it’s been constructed to try and define the roles and responsibilities of the CLIA and its members in this process. It’s there to establish the commitments and really define the framework within which we work together.“

The distribution of the three new draft documents is just the latest in a series of milestones aimed at achieving multispecies livestock traceability in Canada.

The CLIA’s board of directors has already approved in principle its business plan. Dexter says, “[The business plan] really prioritizes the primary areas that we’re going to be working on to establish the foundation for the organization in terms of getting ourselves organized to try and achieve our goals.“

Business Plan Already Approved in Principle

The business plan outlines policy and governance issues, focusing on the roles and the relationships between the organization and its members and the roles of the members in delivering traceability in Canada. It includes provisions for a communications strategy and it contains provisions for funding the system. It also identifies strategies for coordinating the efforts of the various participants in traceability.

Key Goal-Elimination of Foreign Animal Disease and Delivery of Safe Quality Food

McKerracher stresses, “We’re looking at three main things, contain and eliminate reportable foreign animal diseases, maximize food safety and deliver quality food. It goes back to one of the principles, looking back, that no one species shall put another species at risk.“

McKerracher says, while there is no specific time frame, the hope is to receive comments and suggestions on these latest documents by early April, in time for the agency’s next scheduled meeting.

“We see these documents as an expression of what the industry sees as a possible livestock traceability system for Canada,“ says Dan Lutz Director of Traceability with Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.

“It’s important to bring all of the parties to the table because traceability is not a simple topic. Depending on whether you’re looking at it for reasons of animal health or food safety or market access there’s a broad range of organizations that have an interest in the topic.“ Lutz says, “What we hope is that folks will sit down and go through the documents from CLIA and provide reaction and recommendations back to the group.“

Multispecies Traceability Offers Spin-off Benefits

“We need this at this stage to decide what is the best track to follow on livestock traceability in Canada,“ Lutz says. He explains, “The primary focus of the CLIA is on the animal health issues but we know, from our experiences with BSE and other animal diseases in the past, that these also affect our ability to trade our meat products. Certainly there's also the linkage on through to safety of product.“

He suggests, “Traceability has the potential to help our industry in many ways, animal health, food safety, market access in terms of trade rules but also, perhaps in the longer term, as a branding opportunity for Canada.“

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