Once a year, Scrapie Canada’s working group convenes to review the National Standards of the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program. The working group is an advisory committee compiled of representatives from the Canadian Sheep Federation, the Canadian National Goat Federation, the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association and the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association whose purpose is to oversee projects administered by Scrapie Canada. The annual review of the National Standards allows for regular review of the VSFCP rules and regulations, and presents an opportunity to put forward industry-proposed changes to the program. Producer and industry comments regarding the VSFCP are collected throughout the year and addressed at the annual review, in the interest of maintaining stakeholder input in the program. Proposed amendments are discussed by the working group and policy is reviewed by the CFIA, and changes are made where possible through a collaborative process. The 2011 National Standards review addressed some key policy resulting in some regulatory changes. The following points may be of particular interest to VSFCP participants.
Embryos brought into a VSFCP enrolled flock or herd have the same effect on participant status as the acquisition of live females. That’s to say that using an embryo sourced from a non-enrolled flock or herd will downgrade a participant’s status to entry Level E where sourcing embryos from a lower VSFCP status flock or herd will result in a participant’s status being downgraded to the status of the embryo. As with live females, purchasing an embryo from a VSFCP enrolled flock or herd of an equivalent or higher status will result in no change to the purchaser’s status. But how do we establish the effect on VSFCP status when using an embryo collected from a producers own farm prior to enrolment (or collected when you were at a lower status and then stored)? That question was raised recently at the National Standards review and is one worth looking into further.
The answer to this query is not a straight forward one, and the outcome depends entirely on what became of the donor female.
A new motion passed at the 2011 National Standards review saw the acceptance of Agri-Traceability Quebec (ATQ) reports as supporting documents for VSFCP annual inventory reconciliations. Previously, producers were required to provide private sales receipts, auction receipts and slaughter receipts to verify the movement of all animals out of their herds or flocks throughout the year. For Quebec producers this task represented the duplication of information reporting already provided to ATQ as part of the mandatory animal traceability reporting in the province. This VSFCP policy change means that Quebec producers may use their ATQ report on animal movement in lieu of original receipts, saving a considerable amount of time and resources required to compile that amount of information. The changes fell short of allowing the use of ATQ inventory reports in the place of a veterinary supervised inventory. All producers, regardless of their place of residence, will continue to be required to have a scrapie accredited veterinarian conduct their annual inventory report. The inventory process is designed to do more than account for the presence of every eligible animal on-farm; a vital part of that process allows the accredited veterinarian to conduct a visual inspection of the flock/herd checking for clinical signs of scrapie. And as always, producers will be responsible for providing any information deemed absent from the annual reports. These changes will help reduce the amount of work required to complete and submit producers’ annual inventory reconciliations and are anticipated to encourage program uptake by larger producers.