Who's responsible for what in the Canadian sheep traceability system?

The Canadian Sheep Federation and the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) recently reached an agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of each group in delivery of the Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP). As part of the agreement, the per tag fee of $0.23 currently collected to fund the program will increase to $0.59/tag by the summer of 2020.

Corlena Patterson, executive director of the Canadian Sheep Federation, the delivery agent of CSIP, says the increase from $0.23 to $0.59 per tag will be going directly to the CCIA to cover its role as responsible administrator of the program. CSF will continue to get a share of the first $0.23/tag.

The term responsible administrator (RA) isn’t likely what you think,  if you think that the RA is the sole entity that oversees the program. The term is a specific government title, bestowed upon an organization that captures and keeps safe the animal identification data required within the CSIP or any of the other livestock species traceability systems. There are three RAs in Canada: CCIA, ATQ (Quebec only), and PigTrace.

CCIA, as responsible administrator, is the keeper of the database, and is responsible for the interface producers and other value chain participants use to input data. It’s also responsible for producing and sending along data as requested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). For example, identification and corresponding “owners” may be contacted in a scrapie trace-out, or CFIA may ask CCIA to use the database to generate a list of active sheep producers in a given area to then call on as part of on-going traceability requirement tracking. CCIA assumes responsibilities with the tag manufacturers and distribution of the tags themselves, too.

At some point in the coming year (or years), the federal government will roll out new rules and regulations that will create a more complete chain-of-custody traceability system for not only the sheep industry, but for several other livestock species. While some, such as goats, will be adopting animal identification for the first time, the sheep industry will likely be expected to build off of its current bookend system (birth/death) and report animal movement, as well.

Hear from Anne Burnet-Burgess, of CCIA, on exactly what CCIA does for the CSIP and how the organization is preparing for the coming regulatory changes. (Story continues below player.)

The negotiated fee, Patterson says, will be phased-in over the next 18 months dependent on several factors, such as tag replacement rate and when the new traceability rules come into play. As such, she can’t say exactly when sheep producers can expect to pay the full $0.59/tag fee, but the CSF has said it will be by summer of 2020.

So, if CCIA is the holder of the database, and responsible for tag distribution, data collection, and reporting, what does CSF do as delivery agent? Issues, such as tag quality, impending or proposed regulatory changes, and communication of producers’ responsibilities are all part of the CSIP that CSF heads up. If, for example, you do have an issue with CSIP-approved RFID tags, you would get in touch with CSF, and use its reporting mechanism to ensure that information is collected and makes its way to the appropriate people.

Sheep producers, like most farmers, don’t love paying more for just about anything; however, with new regulations ushering in a much larger volume of data to be collected, stored, and shared, updates to software and hardware are required — and all of that costs time, and time is money. While there has been some discussion in the last few years over whether or not CCIA was the preferred or most economical choice of RA, Patterson says that the government made it very clear that CCIA was the RA option available, full stop.

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