Alberta cattle producers show commitment to age verification

… More than 83 per cent of the 2008 calf crop in Alberta has been age verified. This is a significant achievement under the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy, which was announced in June 2008, and represents about 1.5 million calves.

“I am very pleased with the number of producers who took part and age verified their calf crop,” said George Groeneveld, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “This is a critical first step in achieving the successful future for the industry we all want. I would like to extend a sincere thank-you to all of the producers who recognized the importance of age verification and showed their commitment to the industry by adopting this practice.”

Age verification is one initiative outlined in the strategy, which is designed to help the livestock and meat industry become more competitive and profitable by better responding to market demands. Key markets, including many Asian countries, now insist animals be age verified. Federal Agriculture Minister Ritz was recently able to secure an agreement, in principle, for the sale of Canadian beef to Hong Kong. The agreement is a staged approach that will open markets to age verified animals.

Age verification is also a cornerstone of Alberta’s traceability system. In the event of an animal health issue, a robust traceability system will enable us to track the history of the livestock, help prevent further spread of disease and decrease the impact on trade.

In order to receive a second benefit under the Alberta Farm Recovery Plan II, or AFRP II, all livestock producers were required to complete premises identification. In addition, cattle producers were required to age verify their 2008 calf crop by Dec. 31, 2008. Feedlots, who feed more than 5,000 animals a year, must now report animal move-in information to the CCIA database within seven days.

Producers who met these requirements will receive their second benefit around the beginning of March. The practice of age verifying will continue, as it is now mandated under the Animal Health Act, which took effect Jan. 1. Help with age verification and premises identification is available to producers by calling the Ag Info Centre at 310-FARM.