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MORE BSE TESTING

Canada issues new measures to accelerate BSE testing progress.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced its sample collection strategy to increase the number of cattle tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The strategy includes communications to cattle producers and a financial reimbursement initiative.

Canada's national BSE surveillance programme targets animals most likely to be affected by BSE -- cattle aged 30 months or older that are dead, dying, diseased, or down and cattle of any age exhibiting neurological symptoms. Recognizing that producers are best placed to spot these animals, the Agency is launching an education campaign to encourage producers to report high-risk cattle.

"A robust surveillance program, with full producer participation, is a critical part of our efforts to maintain and expand international markets," Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Andy Mitchell explained. "It is very important that we test enough animals to assure domestic and international markets that our beef herd is rigorously surveyed. We need to show the world that we are taking responsible actions to detect BSE."

The Agency is also dedicating C$4.1 million between now and December 2005 to a financial reimbursement initiative to accelerate the flow of animals into the surveillance program. Additional resources may be allocated as required beyond 2005. The initiative is intended to offset producers' costs related to veterinary examination and carcass disposal when these activities result in the collection of an eligible brain sample, which is required for testing. Deadstock collectors, renderers, and veterinarians across Canada that are entering into agreements with the Agency are also eligible for reimbursement of additional costs related to the sampling, tracing, and holding of carcasses being tested.

"Alberta fully supports the surveillance program, and we are committed to vigorously pursuing our testing targets," Alberta's Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Shirley McClellan declared. "These measures will give us the momentum needed to intensify our surveillance efforts."

Discussions with other provinces are ongoing to establish reimbursement values that reflect the cost and options for carcass disposal and the availability of existing provincial programs to encourage sample collection. This year, Canada plans to test 8,000 cattle for the disease. In following years, testing levels will increase to at least 30,000 cattle annually.

Paul Rodgers
Deputy Director of Policy
American Sheep Industry Association
phone: (304) 647-9981
fax: (304) 647-4778
e-mail: prodgers2@earthlink.net

 

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