Canadian Livestock
Canadian Livestock

( Regina— In hopes of opening up a new market for the Canadian pork and beef industry, farmers, feedlots and auction marts are some of few being offered rebates to adopt live-stock tracking technology.

Bob Bjornerud, Agriculture Minister, commented on the provinces livestock traceability program, saying that it is only a voluntary program and that he doubts the federal government will stand by its pledge to put a mandatory system into place by 2011.

The program costing $5 million, split by the federal and provincial government, will rebate up to 70 percent of costs related to panel or handheld readers which are used to scan the radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that are used on livestock.

Bjornerud said that the aim of this program is to soften the harshness of some of the costs that will come with the traceability program.

Alberta has been more aggressive in implementing the traceability program and taking that as an example, Bjornerud wishes to implement something similar here so that Saskatchewan producers do not lose too much money on cattle in the future.

Funding will also be available for installation of equipment, software, and modifications relating to the usage of RFID tags.

$50 000 maximum per facility is what feedlots, livestock producers, meat processors, veterinary clinics, fairs and exhibitions are eligible for. A $100 000 maximum rebate is available for auction marts.

Bjornerud said that the auction marts are probably the ones that will have to deal with some modifications because they will probably need to use panel readers rather than handhelds.

The Agriculture Minister said that this program would help Saskatchewan better prepare for a mandatory program when it’s put into place.

The Canadian Cattle Identification Agency demonstrated how a producer can keep track of each animal’s information using a fake cow’s ear.  The handheld reader was swiped over the RFID tag on each head of a cow, which was then downloaded onto a computer to keep track of each animal.

The traceability program is expected to grow the export market because consumers will know exactly where the animal product has come from.

President of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, Jack Hextall said that he thinks everyone in his association is very supportive of this program being voluntary because it does not force anyone into anything yet without seeing results.

Florian Possberg, Sask Pork Director added that this new traceability system will make Canadian products, “The Cadillac of Pork Production.”  He said that as more countries implement such a traceability program, Canada will be the leader and have an advantage in this area of the market.

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