Scrapie Canada Changes to Import Protocol

Jan 24

January 2010 Scrapie Canada Update

In early 2009, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that requirements around the importation of U.S. female sheep and goats into Canada were going to be changing.

The changes were prompted by the Canadian sheep industry’s plans to move towards scrapie eradication, which means implementing tighter import protocols to reduce the risk of bringing scrapie into the country.

The sheep and goat industries were given the opportunity to comment on the proposed protocol and did so throughout the summer of 2009. During the fall, the CFIA met to discuss the proposed protocol and completed a review of all submitted industry comments. Through these meetings a final decision surrounding the proposed protocol was made.

The following proposals will be adopted as part of the import requirements for bringing in intact female sheep and goats from the U.S.

  1. Intact female sheep/goats from the U.S. are to be imported to a Canadian premises that has been enrolled in the Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP) for at least 12 months, with at least one annual inventory completed (the initial inventory is not considered an annual inventory).
  2. The U.S. exporting producer must have been enrolled in the U.S. Scrapie Flock Certification Program for at least 12 months with at least one annual inventory completed (the initial inventory is not considered an annual inventory). Further, the U.S. producer must be enrolled on the Export Monitored level of the program or the Complete Monitored level of the program (and has been conducting brain testing on all mortalities over 18 months of age for at least 12 months). This last point is not a new requirement- it was implemented in 2007.

The CFIA explained that prior enrolment in the country’s flock certification program for at least 12 months (with the completion of at least one annual inventory) is a key bio-security and risk mitigation component, especially as risk tolerance for scrapie is decreasing.

Canadian producers with no sheep and goats currently on the property would be exempt from the 12 month waiting period as there would be no animals on the farm to inventory. These producers would contact Scrapie Canada and ask for Temporary Enrollment on the program and follow these requirements.

A new import protocol was also proposed in early 2009 around the importation of U.S. intact female sheep/ goats going into a flock/ herd that doesn’t expect any deaths for many years; and does not routinely send aged animals to slaughter. For example, the importing flock/ herd would be small groups of rare breeds or animals that are being used for ongoing fibre production. The proposal incorporated the use of a rectal biopsy to complete scrapie testing on these flocks/ herds, rather than completing annual brain testing.

After reviewing industry comments and completing a committee review, the CFIA has released the following statement:

After careful consideration of all comments, and a thorough evaluation of the impact on the CFIA’s ability to fully follow up on the health of the national sheep and goat population, it was determined that the rectal biopsy was not able to be incorporated into the import policy for three main reasons:

  1. From a CFIA operational and resource standpoint, follow-up of these flocks could not be conducted in a fair and equitable manner;
  2. Inconsistencies would have been introduced into the VFSCP, taking value away from those participating in the program.
  3. The use of the rectal biopsy as an individual animal test is not in line with the OIE recommended international standards at this time for import purposes.

The CFIA went on to say that although it is not logistically feasible at this time to incorporate the rectal biopsy into the import protocol for importing live small ruminants into Canada, the CFIA is willing to discuss further incorporation of the rectal biopsy within its domestic programs, specifically within the SFCP, for small flocks/ herds that do not anticipate a constant rate of mortality over time.

The industry plans on continuing to work with the CFIA on all small ruminant importation issues. Any new and relevant information on the issue will be released for comment. Any producers wishing to send in feedback or questions can do so by contacting Scrapie Canada at the contact information below.

For more information, please contact Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302 or

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Scrapie Canada's Project Partners

Canadian Sheep Federation

Canadian Sheep Breeder’s Association

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Canadian National Goat Federation

Canadian Food Inspection Agency