Cattle farmers say ID costly, time consuming
Some P.E.I. cattle farmers say the system for tracing animals for food safety reasons is becoming too difficult and expensive.
The National Farmer's Union says it could mean some small producers just give up.
Cattle farmers like Elwin Wyand are required to put small electronic ID tags on all their animals so that if there was an outbreak of disease — such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy — it would be easier to trace the source.
But Wyand said the traceability system creates a lot paperwork.
And if a tag falls off one of their cattle, farmers face a fine of $1,300 or more.
"If you go on the road at all, you have to make sure you have a tag in every animal's ear," said Wyand. "But sometimes you might not notice as they're going in the truck and you'd be up for a fine if they ever happen to stop you on the road."
Peter Verleun, chair of the P.E.I. Cattle Producers Association said it only costs $3 to tag a cow and he hasn't heard of anyone being fined for not having their cattle tagged.
He's heard some farmers have had trouble with them, but he said he takes extra time to make sure they're secure.
Verleun said markets in Korea, Japan and part of China have opened up because Canada has improved traceability for beef.
"BSE is the perfect circumstance," said Verleun. "We shut down the whole country because of one cow in Alberta. If we had a better traceability system in Canada, perhaps the whole country wouldn't have been shut down. Perhaps just Alberta would have been shut down."
Wyand said he isn't against traceability, he just wishes there was less cost and paperwork to do.
"Well it's just extra work. Extra work and extra time that we may not have," said Wyand.
Wyand said the NFU will lobby the federal government to make the traceability system less cumbersome.
Meanwhile, the P.E.I. Cattle Producers Association said the system will continue to improve. And they feel any cost and time associated with it will be worth it.