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90 per cent of the cattle marketed in the province, voted to support mandatory age verification in Saskatchwan at their semi-annual meeting last May. But they weren’t ready to fully endorse the tracking component of traceability at their January annual meeting in Saskatoon.

“We know it’s coming, but we feel it should be done in baby steps,” says president Jeff Jameson of Saskatoon. “Everyone, marketers and producers, needs to be educated to make sure it’s done right. We have the ear of the producer, so we feel we are in a position to assist the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency and the governments.”

The SLA has applied for a grant to cover the cost of educating members and their employees about the traceability program. Its first training session was a safe livestock handling seminar last spring held with the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan.

Growing Forward funds are available to assist with the purchase of RFID readers and related equipment, though it will take more than the allowable maximum to retrofit some of the Saskatchewan markets, says Jameson.

Conversion is the other burning issue for SLA members. This refers to producers selling cattle with undisclosed liens against them. Once an auction market sells the cattle and pays the producer the lien holder can go after the market for the cost of the loan. LMS is lobbying for the addition of a security declaration to the brand manifest, similar to what is used in Alberta.

With all these issues on its plate, the LMS recently contracted with AgriBiz Communications of Saskatoon, and appointed Adele Buettner as executive director.

The new LMS website can be found at www.livestockmarketers.ca.

LEGAL CLASS ACTION RALLY AT RED DEER. MAR. 31

The people behind the BSE Class Action lawsuit are holding an open meeting for interested cattle producers in the Stockmen’s Pavilion at the Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta, Mar. 31 at noon.

The main speaker is Cameron Pallett, the Toronto-based lawyer for Niagara Falls-area cattle producer Bill Sauer. Sauer is the representative plaintiff for a class that includes all Canadian cattle producers outside of Quebec. A separate lawsuit covers Quebec producers, but the lawyers will go to court in April to have them merged into one action.

The two suits claim negligence by government led directly to the BSE-related closure of the U. S. border and other markets. If successful the suits stand to benefit about 135,000 producers.

Justice Joan Lax of the Ontario Superior Court, certified Sauer’s suit as a class action last fall, and the Supreme Court of Canada refused to dismiss her ruling.

Pallett says he feels more comfortable outlining the facts of the case to producers now that the class action has been certified. “We are real now, he says. If the government refuses to negotiate a settlement, he says producers can be assured there will be a trial. Unfortunately a case of this complexity will almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court and it could take another eight years to get a verdict.

At the meeting, Pallet says he will be explaining his plans to press officials in Ottawa to “do the right thing” and settle the suit out of court, and what producers can do to support the lawsuit.

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