Update on Bovine TB

December 01, 2016

On December 1, 2016, I participated in a conference call hosted by Canada’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The investigations are ongoing. Presently, there have been 6 cases of TB detected in cattle, including the original cow that tested positive. A total of 18 ranch operations are having their herds sent to the slaughter, and now 30 more have been added to the quarantine.

The total number of animals affected thus far is over 20,000 head, and that number will likely change as investigations and testing continues. They are required to trace the cattle’s movement for the last 5 years.
The sampling on the original 18 quarantined properties is nearly complete, and shortly the focus will shift to on farm testing of other affected herds.

The compensation provided under the Health of Animals Act provisions was discussed, which provides fair market value per head. Another M.P. asked what the timeline was for the 16.7 million dollars announced yesterday by Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture. Because it was just announced, officials were not able to get into much detail. What we do know is that the new funding will be cost shared between the governments of Alberta and Canada, and that they will need to sort out the details of how that compensation will be distributed, working with industry groups like the Alberta Cattle Producers for input.

There was discussion about the much discussed ‘feedlot option’, and that may be moving forward. CFIA says they have worked with industry and have the location in mind, but the quarantine and biosecurity protocols must be certified before that option can become operational. The location will not be released until that happens.

I reminded Dr. Kochhar very bluntly that it is crucial that CFIA be communicating with the individual affected ranchers directly, and that communicating through their industry groups alone was not enough. Dr. Kochhar proposed that instead of having a single conference call a week, they could offer a second. Also, I reiterated that our frustrated farmers and ranchers are discussing alternative ways to deal with the situation. These alternative ways would not be in the best interest of ensuring testing is completed as planned, and the right way for CFIA to approach this is through better communication with farmers and ranchers who are affected.