Fair associations concerned with new CFIA rules

Fair associations concerned with new CFIA rules
Apr 26, 2023

The new regulations placed additional burdens on volunteers, an industry rep said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The organization representing fairs and exhibition organizers across Canada is raising concern about implemented and proposed Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations.

On March 18, the CFIA opened a 90-day consultation (until June 16) about livestock traceability and identification.

Some of the rules place the responsibility of identifying and tracing the livestock on event organizers.

The CFIA working to streamline traceability and identification is something the Canadian Association of Fairs & Exhibitions supports, but this kind of work should be handled by livestock producers, said Christina Franc, the organization’s executive director.

“The tagging regulations say that if an animal loses its tag on the fairgrounds or at a show, the organizers are responsible for putting the tag in with the fairground’s identification number,” she told Farms.com. “We’re advocating that the farmers be the ones who replaces any lost tags and that the tags have the farm of origin’s identification number.”

Fairs and exhibitions rely on volunteers.

About 83 per cent of people involved with shows and events are volunteers, CAFE says. 79 per cent of the events aren’t equipped to handle the extra storage or equipment.

In addition, many of the volunteers don’t have experience working with livestock.

“The volunteers don’t know how to handle large animals like cattle or smaller livestock like sheep,” Franc said. “If they’re not doing something properly, it can become a safety issue and a liability issue. Farmers work with these animals every day and have the expertise to handle them properly.”

And farmers agree with the CAFE’s assessment.

A survey of involved producers indicated overwhelming support for letting farmers handle livestock.

“Ninety per cent of producers were sure they did not want (event organizers) doing this. Another 5 per cent were unsure about the issue,” Franc said. “Clearly there’s no interest in having the fair’s tag.”

A proposed CFIA rule the CAFE is against revolves around animal movement.

The proposal states that animal movement to and from fairgrounds has to be reported by the fairgrounds within seven days.

Franc’s organization is proposing the farm of origin be the one to report the animal movement.

“It’s already hard enough to find volunteers to do the work that needs to be done, so adding another level of complexity adds stress to our volunteers,” Franc said. “Especially, again, when you have farmers who work with livestock every day and are familiar with this kind of process.”

Franc is encouraging farmers to submit feedback on the CFIA’s regulations and to support the CAFE’s stance on livestock identification and traceability.

“We need all the support we can get on this issue,” she said. “The more people who provide comments supporting what we’re saying, the better chance we have of getting some of these proposals reversed.”