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CFIA, DFC to draft on-farm biosecurity standard

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Dairy Farmers of Canada are working on a voluntary, farm-level biosecurity standard for Canada’s dairy sector.

An advisory group, made up of representatives from DFC, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, academia and provincial and federal governments, has been set up to “guide the development” of the standard, CFIA said in a release Friday.

A national standard is expected to be complete by spring 2012 and will focus on the “broad issues” affecting biosecurity, the agency said.

A “benchmarking” exercise will run at the farm level to help determine current biosecurity practices in the industry, CFIA said.

The exercise “will also highlight existing best-management practices” and will allow dairy producers a chance to provide input into the standard, the agency said Friday.

“Biosecurity” in this case refers to activities meant to minimize the risk of introducing and spreading disease and pests on a farm.

The concept has become increasingly important to the Canadian dairy sector as it continues to evolve toward fewer, larger farms with high-producing animals, the agency has said previously.

Previous outbreaks of diseases such as foot-and-mouth and rinderpest in other countries have led to “significant” economic losses for cattle industries.

While farmers have had a “long-standing commitment” to on-farm biosecurity, a standard “will build on this foundation by providing goals, objectives and measurable targets,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in Friday’s release.

Such a standard, “based on current practices, will encourage wider adoption of best practices on farms across the country,” New Brunswick dairyman and DFC president Jacques Laforge said in the release.

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