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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CFIA loses bid for judicial review of tagging decision

The Federal Court of Appeal has rejected an application by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for judicial review of a decision by the Canadian Agricultural Review Tribunal made last January.  In the decision, Dr. Don Buckingham of the Tribunal determined that CFIA had failed to prove on a balance of proabilities that lambs which arrived untagged after transport from Saskatchewan to Ontario had been untagged when they left the farm. 

The Federal Court of Appeal's decision was simple: "Based on the evidence before it, the Tribunal was entitled to make these factual findings. Given the deferential standard of review of reasonableness that applies in this case, there is no basis upon which we can set aside these factual findings. Therefore, the Tribunal’s conclusion that there was no violation must stand."

The decision itself in this case is not extraordinary.  However, it does raise practical questions about how farmers can respond to CFIA allegations related to untagged animals.  Note that the appeal took place in Toronto.  The farmer is located in Saskatchewan.  While it is likely that the hearing would have taken place in Saskatchewan had the farmer participated in the appeal (which he did not), one can question whether it would ever be worthwhile for a farmer to expend resources to respond to an appeal in a case involving a $500 penalty.  Having won at the Tribunal, at his own cost, could the farmer be expected to pay more money to fight a CFIA appeal of the decision?

Read the Federal Court of Appeal decision at: Canada (Attorney General) v. Rosemont Livestock.

Read the original decision of the Canadian Agricultural Review Tribunal at: Rosemont Livestock v. Canada (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), 2010 CART 004.