Quarantine of southeast Alberta ranches could last months, say CFIA officials
Roughly 30 ranches quarantined as officials investigate case of bovine TB
The quarantine of some 30 southeast Alberta ranches after a cow tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in the United States could last for several months, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials said this week.
The disease was detected in a cow after it was processed at a plant in the U.S. and traced back to Alberta.
The quarantined ranches are located in the Buffalo Atlee and Suffield Block community pastures.
CFIA officials are working with provincial agriculture and health authorities to determine where the animal originated. Based on the current epidemiological information, CFIA veterinarians and inspectors will be making contact with cattle producers in the following areas:
- Newell County
- Special Area No. 2
- Special Area No. 3
- Acadia No. 34
- Cypress County (North of Medicine Hat)
Prices unlikely to be affected
Karin Schmid, beef production specialist with Alberta Beef Producers, is confident prices will be unaffected by the quarantine.
"Many of our trading partners have [bovine] tuberculosis as well," she said, referencing past and current cases in the U.S., Japan and China.
"This should not affect prices or market access whatsoever," she told CBC Calgary News at 6.
For individual ranchers, however, it's a different story, Schmid said.
"For the ones affected by the quarantine, this is really, really hard. This is the time of the year when they sell their calves. It's their paycheque for the year," she explained.
"None of them expected the additional expense of the quarantine or the inability to move their animals."
CFIA to compensate ranchers
Affected ranchers could be compensated, said Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada's chief veterinary officer.
"The CFIA will pay compensation to producers as quickly as possible for any animals ordered destroyed," he said in a video statement.
"Producers may be eligible for assistance for expenses not covered by the CFIA's compensation authority from other programs involving Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forests."
CFIA officials are conducting testing and tracing potentially exposed animals. So far, one infected herd has been located on three premises and removal and destruction of the animals is underway.
Because of the number of herds involved, additional staff have been brought in from other parts of the country.
"As this investigation involves a significant number of herds and requires the tracing of the movement of animals for the past five years plus testing, it is not expected to be completed for several months," states a CFIA release.
Only ranches placed under quarantine by the CFIA are prevented from moving animals without permission.
Producers in the general investigation area that have not been contacted by the CFIA are allowed to move animals (including sending cattle to auction markets and feed lots) but must comply with livestock identification requirements.
With files from Dave Gilson and CBC Calgary News at 6