The Alberta government plans to steer just under $1 million from a livestock age-verification program toward incentives for sheep and farmed elk and deer producers to adopt tag systems for traceability.
The province on Wednesday said it would offer a total of $450,000 per year for two years in incentives to Alberta’s estimated 1,900 sheep farms, and a total of $30,000 per year over three years to the province’s 344 licensed cervid farms.
“These programs are stepping stones towards strengthening Alberta’s traceability systems, and focus on encouraging industry cooperation and participation, rather than strictly relying on a regulatory approach,” Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden said in a release.
The cervid program is meant to further encourage the cervid industry’s compliance with provincial Livestock Industry Diversification Act (LIDA) requirements, while the sheep program is to encourage the industry’s transition to radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags as their “primary means” of animal ID.
Funds for both programs will come from the province’s $15 million Age Verification Incentive Program, announced in May 2010.
The sheep incentive program will be a two-year program (2011-12) in which applicants follow a two-step process, the province said.
The program will reimburse farmers for up to $3 per Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP)-approved RFID tag applied to lambs born between Dec. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2012.
Eligible producers will submit a program application form to the provincial ag department that indicates the number of lambs tagged with CSIP-approved RFID ear tags within a given lambing period. The CSIP-approved tags must have been bought between Nov. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2012.
Paired with an appropriate reader and farm management software, RFID ear tags are to allow producers to access and update production information on an individual animal basis, in real time, as animals are handled or sorted.
“Transitioning to RFID technology better positions Alberta’s sheep industry for success by enabling producers to improve flock management and increase productivity,” Phil Kolodychuk, chair of Alberta Lamb Producers, said in the province’s release.
Details are still being finalized for the cervid program, meanwhile, but it will provide incentives to all farmed cervid license holders in Alberta who double-tag their animals and annually register them in Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s (ARD) Cervid Farming System (CFS).
Elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, reindeer and moose born on Alberta licensed cervid farms in 2009, 2010 and 2011, double-tagged with ARD-approved ear tags and reported to the CFS as per LIDA requirements, are eligible.
During March, ARD said, the department will send a direct mailout to all current farmed cervid license holders, including partially pre-populated application forms customized to each farm license holder.
To qualify for payment of $6 for each calf that’s double-tagged and registered, a farm license holder will have to verify the information already preloaded onto the form, complete the rest of the form and return it to ARD.
Recipients will then get program payments based upon the verification of eligibility and approval of each application, ARD said.
The province on Monday announced it would put forward amendments in this legislative session to transfer legislative responsibility for farmed cervids, as identified in the Wildlife Act and Wildlife Regulation, to the LIDA.