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B.C. animal health policies up for review, comment

British Columbia has launched a two-month online consultation as part of a larger review of its animal health laws and policies, with a specific focus on disease control.

The province’s animal health policies and legislation “need to be modernized to ensure we can detect and manage a wide variety of diseases, including a broad range of production-limiting diseases, zoonotic diseases and new and emerging diseases,” the B.C. ag ministry said in a preamble to the review online.

The end result of this review is expected to be “updated provincial practices, policies, regulation and legislation.”

The deadline for public comment through the online survey is midnight, Jan. 23, 2011.

“It’s essential that B.C.’s animal health management system is responsive and that it safeguards both animal and human health, and the economic well-being of farmers and ranchers,” Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart said in a release Tuesday.

“I’m really encouraging members of the general public and anyone with an interest in animal health to take part in this review.”

The main focus of the review will be the Animal Disease Control Act, which the province described Tuesday as its “central animal health statute,” while noting the Act is over 50 years old.

B.C. “must be able to take swift and effective action to control animal disease outbreaks when they occur, and have the authority to support preventative animal health management,” the province said.

The province said it needs a “responsive” animal health management system to protect human health, minimize the economic impact of animal disease outbreaks, support its livestock operations’ productivity and competitiveness, and bolster the confidence of trading partners within Canada and worldwide.

For the review, the province said it will seek input from a “broad audience” including the public and all who have a stake in animal health in B.C., such as animal health labs, veterinarians and livestock producers.

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