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Four-fifths of Alta. calf crop age-verified

Described as a “critical first step” in Alberta’s new Livestock and Meat Strategy, over 83 per cent of the province’s 2008 calf crop has been age-verified, the provincial government said Monday.

Age verification is among the initiatives outlined in the ALMS strategy, which the province expects to help its livestock and meat industry become more competitive and profitable by better responding to market demands.

Several key markets now insist on age verification for livestock, the province said. It cited federal officials’ success in negotiating several stages of restored market access to Hong Kong for Canadian beef from age-verified animals.

Age verification is also a “cornerstone” of Alberta’s planned traceability system, the province said. “In the event of an animal health issue, a robust traceability system will enable us to track the history of the livestock, help prevent further spread of disease and decrease the impact on trade.”

The age-verified animals in Alberta’s 2008 calf crop account for about 1.5 million head, the province said.

Alberta cattle producers who were eligible to receive benefits under the Alberta Farm Recovery Plan II (AFRP II) have had to complete premises ID and age-verify their 2008 calf crop by Dec. 31, 2008.

As well, Alberta feedlots that feed more than 5,000 animals a year must now report animal move-in information to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) database within seven days.

Producers who met these requirements will get their second AFRP II benefit around the beginning of March, the province said.

Meanwhile, the practice of age verifying is now mandated to continue in Alberta under its new Animal Health Act, which took effect Jan. 1.

“I am very pleased with the number of producers who took part and age-verified their calf crop,” Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld said in the province’s release Monday. “This is a critical first step in achieving the successful future for the industry we all want.”

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