North American Swine Producers Find Common Direction on Animal ID and Tracebility

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2195. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 15 July 2006
clock icon 8 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2195

Swine producers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are expressing their support for maintaining a strictly animal health focused approach to the developing systems for identifying and tracking the movement of livestock within North America.

Foreign animal disease and the ability to trace animals from the packing plant to their farm of origin was a key topic when representatives of the Canadian, American and Mexican pork industries met in May in San Francisco. The issue was discussed again last week as a delegation from the U.S. based National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) traveled to Winnipeg (July 6-7) to take part in the Canadian Pork Council's annual board of directors meeting.

Canada, Mexico, U.S. Recognize the Need for Computability of Systems

NPPC president Joy Philippi, on hand for last week's meeting as part of the U.S. delegation, recalls, “Just recently the three countries met to talk about the purpose of a strong traceability, animal ID as we call it in the U.S., program that could protect the North American herd health. All three countries have been making strides to make this work.”

She explains, “Our U.S. goal is a traceback from the packing plant to the farm in less than 48 hours if possible. I think there are similar goals up here in Canada and Mexico has the same priorities. It’s just how are we going to do it and will what we put together be able to have some kind of interface so that if we have a problem in the U.S. or Canada or Mexico with a foreign animal disease, we know we can protect ourselves with a traceback?”

Science Based Animal Health Focus Recognized as Key

Philippi stresses, “We really feel that if this is animal health driven in the U.S., and I believe all across the board for the three countries, we have the strong feeling that if it's animal health driven it will be very successful.”

She notes, “In a lot of ways people have kind of confused the issue of traceability, animal ID, with animal health driven versus market driven. Some places the markets are asking for traceback all the way through the animals and things like that. Our focus in the U.S. is animal health driven and the focus of the conversations that we’ve had with the other countries, animal health driven. We need to have a healthy North American swine herd and we have to protect that health. This is the best way that we can see to do that.”

Canada, Mexico, U.S. Move on Similar Paths

Canadian Pork Council president Clare Schlegel adds, “We’ve compared our systems between Mexico, the United States and Canada and, although Mexico has a different way of going about tracking animals, they have border control between states, we're all heading in a similar direction so we're confident that North America is heading in the right direction.”

Coordination Acknowledged as Crucial

Philippi adds, “All three countries know the importance of the producer saying this is what works for us and we believe we can make it work. When it comes to the coordination between the countries, I think all of us have concerns. Are each of our countries in tune with one another that if a problem is found, will the U.S. call Canada, will Canada call the U.S. and how quickly we can respond to that? We though, if we took a step forward by, as producers, talking about this then going back and communicating to government, that they would be able to start putting the funding and the people out there to make that happen.”

Cooperation-Communication with Government a Top Priority

Schlegel concurs, “We all agree on the importance and we do believe that the systems will work. We’re each working with our own government and the governments are having conversations as well. This is a clear situation where it is a government and industry partnership and that's the only way it will work so we urge the government to continue to move forward. We urge the government to work with us as industry partners to make this a cost effective system that has integrity and stands up to the world.”

Opportunity for Both-Cooperation and Competition

CPC Traceability Committee chair Dennis McKerracher notes, “With regards to traceability, first of all we all recognize that we do compete with each other for certain international markets but, when we talk about the good of our North American industry we set that aside. This benefits all of us. The fact [is] that the U.S. and Canada, for instance, and Mexico, will have different systems. It’s not saying that one system is better than the other. We have different needs in our countries on what the system has to address so we're looking at making sure that what we all agree to as a minimum level of traceability needs is met with all the countries.”

“We see, in a lot of ways,” Schlegel explains, “North America taking on the world. Between Canada and the United States and Mexico we’re almost 50 percent of the world’s trade in export on pork so, obviously, anything that affects any one of us, if it takes us out of the world market, it's a major problem. Because we’ve got such a long border between our two countries and disease does not know borders, it's critical that our systems are synergistic.”

He suggests, “We see the need for traceability like an insurance program. In the event of a fire, in the event of a foreign animal disease, it will help us get quickly get back into the world pork export markets. Prevention is second to none so what's currently happening at our borders, keeping disease out is absolutely critical. Traceability, we don't see it as a market advantage but a market defense.”

Communication Described as Excellent

McKerracher stresses, “The dialogue between the U.S. and Canada, especially, is just excellent with regards to discussions on traceability, primarily because of that north south movement. There again, with our counterparts in Mexico at the trilateral meetings, the cooperation and the information is very transparent. Everybody puts there cards on the table and explains their systems.”

Schlegel agrees, “Canada and the United states have a very strong working relationship. At the national level Canadian Pork Council works closely with the National Pork Producers Council and we occasionally visit with the National Pork Board as well. There’s many strong relationships between state organizations and provincial organizations and many very strong relationships at the business level, farmer to farmer. Our sense is that the realization that we do work in an integrated North American marketplace where we're really one, we’re not two separate markets, particularly on the livestock side, is increasing on both the North side of the border in Canada and also in the United States.”

Importance of Cost Effectiveness Also Recognized

Philippi cautions, “The biggest thing is as we, as producers, develop this we need to have it all done in a very easy manner.”

She notes, “The first step that we tell producers to do, get your premise registered, know you’re following the government regulation on that and let the government know you're willing to take the step on your operation level and ask them to take the steps necessary on the government level so that coordination can be done.”

Schlegel also recognizes, “[It is] extremely important that the systems are cost effective, that they minimize any kind of impact on the farm but yet that they're effective and that they stand up to international integrity tests.”

Philippi points out, “We [U.S. producers] have a pseudorabies program right now. We’ve been doing traceback with breeding stock for years because of that and we think this is just another step, another way to prove that we want to keep our health issues under control and keep disease aspects under control.”

Producer Support Strong

Philippi observes, “I believe the producers are totally behind doing this for animal health purposes. They have a little bit more issue with this when we talk about it in marketing.”

She stresses, “Trade is an important thing to all three countries and if one country would set up standards that would make it difficult for trading to happen as it has been it could create an issue that none of us want to have and that being the possibility of discontinued trade issues just because we wanted to protect our herd.”

She concludes, “If we look at the three countries together, we just can not create a system that looks protectionist from one country to another.”

Staff Farmscape.Ca
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