The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that requirements around the importation of sheep and goats into Canada from the USA are set to change in 2011.
As of January 2011, female sheep or goats for breeding, domestic or captive purposes can only be imported from a property enrolled in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP) and determined to be from a “negligible risk premises.” This is not a change from the current rules in place.
What will be changing are the rules around how long Canadian producers must be enrolled on the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP) prior to importing female sheep or goats from the USA.
The new rules state that Canadian producers (with sheep and goats already on the property) wanting to import females from the USA may do so as long as they have been enrolled on the VSFCP for at least 24 consecutive months and have completed two annual inventories. The same applies for the exporting American producer.
This is an increase from the 12 month waiting period that was implemented in June 2010.
A grandfathering clause has been put in place for producers who enrolled on the VSFCP during the years 2009 and 2010.
These producers will be permitted to import female sheep and goats from the USA as long as they have been enrolled on the VSFCP for at least 12 consecutive months and have completed at least one annual inventory.
The clause also states that Canadian producers who enrolled on the VSFCP during the years 2009 and 2010 will still be required to import from American producers who have been enrolled on the USA program for at least 24 months and have completed two annual inventories.
The grandfathering clause will only be valid until January 1, 2013.
The CFIA, at this time, does not anticipate further increasing Canadian producers’ wait time prior to importing females. This means Canadian producers’ wait time will not be extended beyond two years.
Enrollment time for American exporters, however, will continue to increase as Canada ramps up its scrapie eradication protocols.
Changes around the importation of males will also be changing but not right away. The CFIA has announced that some internal discussion on the matter has taken place but nothing concrete has been proposed.
Moving forward, the CFIA will review current literature on the topic and then set up discussions with the USDA. An internal consultation phase within Canada will then follow. This is when industry will be given the opportunity to comment.
Once the consultation phase is complete, new policy will be developed and moved through the approval process.
No specific timeline has been set in place, however, the CFIA has indicated that the industry will be given sufficient time to comment and will be made aware of all changes prior to their implementation. The CFIA estimates that changes will not be made until the summer of 2011 at the earliest.
The CFIA first announced these changes in early 2009 as part of the industry’s move towards scrapie eradication. In order to achieve total eradication, Canada must tighten up its import protocols to reduce the risk of bringing scrapie into the country.
Tightening import protocols is important for a number of reasons. Prior enrolment in the country’s flock certification program is a key bio-security and risk mitigation component, especially as risk tolerance for scrapie is decreasing.
Ramping up is also important for Canada to achieve scrapie eradication and receive the status of “scrapie free” from the World Organization for Animal Health, more commonly referred to as the OIE. One way of accomplishing this is by establishing import conditions that are in line with the policies laid out by the OIE.
Current and potential trading partners such as the US, Mexico and South America take into account whether Canada follows OIE regulations when considering trade agreements. In fact, in past negotiations, these countries have questioned Canada’s OIE compliance.
The U.S. has made it very clear that they are following OIE scrapie criteria. The U.S. has publicly stated that they are working towards eradication and want to be recognized as “scrapie free” in accordance with the OIE by 2017. They have told Canada that if a trading relationship between the two countries is to continue, Canada must follow a similar path towards scrapie eradication.
Funding for the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program is provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) AgriFlexibility program. Opinions expressed in this document are those of the Canadian Sheep Federation and not necessarily those of AAFC.