Fines now an option for pig traceability enforcement

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Canadian hog producers who don’t follow the federal requirements for animal identification and tracking of animal movements could now be fined for non-compliance, though it’s expected such fines would be a “last resort.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Wednesday announced new amendments to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations, allowing CFIA-designated officials to issue “notices of violation” to farmers not following the national PigTrace system.

Such notices of violation could be issued “with or without monetary penalties,” CFIA said.

The amendments took effect Aug. 2, CFIA said. Inspection staff have access to the new measure starting Wednesday, the Canadian Pork Council said in a separate notice.

PigTrace, the council’s national traceability program, has been mandatory since July 2014, since which about 11,000 locations have been registered and over 1.2 million “movement events” recorded.

Its requirements call for all pig and wild boar farmers and pet owners, as well as the animals’ “custodians,” such as auction market operators, transporters and breeders, to “properly identify, keep records and report the movement of these animals under their care or control.”

Until now, the council said, CFIA’s traceability enforcement has “focused on education,” but its inspectors now have the discretion as to what type of enforcement is needed.

“In general, education and verbal notices will occur for a first offence. A repeat offense would result in a letter of non-compliance, and if there are enough repeat offences, a financial penalty may be issued,” the council said. CFIA “may also seek prosecution in the most severe cases.”

If issued, a fine for non-compliance with most PigTrace requirements is expected to be classed as a “minor violation,” worth up to $1,300, the council said.

When inspectors decide what action to take, CFIA said, the agency will consider “compliance history, the seriousness of a violation and factors that are outside the control of regulated parties.”

“Past practice at the CFIA shows that it is quite rare to receive a financial penalty for animal identification and traceability programs, and that it is used as a last resort,” the council said.

For example, the council said, CFIA issued just 16 financial penalties in 2015 for non-compliance in offenses involving cattle, sheep and/or bison traceability rules. — Network

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