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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review Tribunal decision highlights inflexibility in CFIA tag requirements

In a January, 2010 decision just posted on the internet, Dr. Donald Buckingham of the Canadian Agricultural Review Tribunal has once again reiterated that due diligence on the part of farmers is not enough to save them from paying for violations of cattle tagging regulations.  In this case, Doug Morningstar was found to have violated subsection 177(1) of the Health of Animals Act because two of the cattle he transported from his farm to an abattoir in 2008 did not have an approved identification tag. 

As Dr. Buckingham notes, keeping tags on the cattle at all times is no easy task:
Practical difficulties arise in attempting to have 100% of Canadian cattle tagged with approved tags. Some animals, requiring identification pursuant to Part XV of the Health of Animals Regulations, may never be tagged, through neglect or opposition to the present regulatory scheme. Most animals, however, will be tagged, but, even among these, some will lose their tags somewhere between the birthing pen and the slaughter house floor. To minimize “"slippage"” and to maximize the number of animals that are tagged with approved tags for the full duration of the animal's life, the Health of Animals Regulations require several actors in the production chain to tag animals which are either not yet tagged or which have lost their tags. If actors inside or beyond the farm gate do not tag as required, they face liability when tags are missing. Transporters of cattle are among those identified under the Health of Animals Regulations with such responsibilities.
However, having tags on the cattle at all times when they are being moved from location to location is the rule, and there is virtually no exception to the rule:
The Tribunal has no reason to doubt Mr. Morningstar's assertion made at the hearing that he is a conscientious producer who knows where his cattle originate and where they go to, or his assertion that he does his uttermost to ensure that cattle leaving his farm bear approved tags. However, in light of this analysis of the evidence, the Tribunal must conclude that the respondent has established, on a balance of probabilities, that the violation was committed. Therefore, the Tribunal orders the applicant to pay the penalty in the amount of $500 within 30 days after the day on which this decision is served.
Read the decision at: Doug Morningstar v. Canadian Food Inspection Agency.