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LETTERS – for Nov. 9, 2009

More On Traceability

On behalf of Alberta Beef Producers, I would like to respond to the Comment by Gren Winslow (Why rush to mandatory traceability?) in the August issue of your magazine and the letter from Ed Curry (mandatory traceability rings alarm bells) published in the October issue. Gren Winslow’s question about the rush to mandatory traceability is a good one and many cattle producers have serious concerns about the costs that a mandatory traceability system might impose on our industry.

Gren made the point that producer and industry groups have basically stopped fighting against traceability and Ed Curry said that representative organizations have been quiet on this issue. Neither of these statements is completely accurate. ABP has never fought against the principles of traceability. We recognize the importance of traceability in managing animal health and food safety issues and we helped to implement the national animal identifi cation system for the cattle industry. We do oppose regulations that add costs for producers without generating real and measurable benefits for the industry.

On the other hand, we certainly have not been quiet on the traceability issue. In response to concerns we had heard from producers, we prepared a discussion paper on livestock information systems and traceability that outlined the principles on which a traceability system should be based. We distributed this discussion paper to ABP delegates, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) representatives, and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) last fall. The paper is also posted on the ABP website and was made available at our 2008 fall producer meetings, while a summary of the paper was sent to all producers with an open letter from me last January.

The ABP position on traceability can be stated in two sentences. There must be a clear separation between the mandatory information required for a traceability system that protects animal health and food safety and the voluntary information that would be used to improve our production systems and support supply chains in the development of branded products. The implementation of mandatory traceability systems must provide identifiable benefi ts at an acceptable cost and occur at a rate that commerce and technology will allow without placing undue costs on producers or the industry.

ABP will continue to take the concerns of cattle producers and our traceability principles forward to governments as they develop policies and legislation on this issue. We know that traceability is important and we support a reasonable and appropriate traceability system. However, we will not support a traceability system that would simply represent another regulatory cost imposed on an industry that already is suffering from excess regulatory burden.

RICK BURTON, CHAIR ALBERTA BEEF PRODUCERS

Credit where credit is due

In my article Home-built solar basics in the October Canadian CaTTleMen, there is a picture of a white portable solar pump on page 17 (top right). This picture was submitted to the magazine with due credit to Duncan Macmillan of Vermilion, Alta. It was not printed with that credit underneath. I apologize for this fact and would like to give full credit to Duncan for his pump design and construction. It really is a slick little unit.

SEAN MCGRATH, P. AG. VERMILION, ALTA.

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