By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — Proposed regulations for livestock transportation in Canada would cost producers money and lack a clear scientific basis, according to Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) president Matt Bowman.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) posted its proposed changes to Canadian livestock transportation rules last December.
“If the science can prove a benefit, that’s fine. But if they’re just making the change for change’s sake, we’re not in favour of that,” said Bowman.
The biggest problem is transport time; the new regulations would curtail how long beef animals could spend on the truck. Cattle would be limited to travelling 36 hours without food, rest, or water, down from 48. Ruminants that are “too young to be fed exclusively on hay and grain,” will only be allowed to travel for 12 hours with a rest stop, down from 18.
The regulations would also remove the four-hour grace period that would theoretically allow an animal to travel 52 hours without food, water, or rest.
Bowman said that the “BFO believes that CFIA has grossly overestimated the benefit of the proposed regulatory changes to the cattle sector, and grossly underestimated the potential costs.”
“It should be noted that while cost impacts have been assigned to the transportation sector, it is our view that additional costs will, in fact, be borne by producers in the form of increased trucking fees rather than by the transporters themselves.”
The BFO recommended the rules for travel time allow for a maximum of 40 hours travel without food, water, or rest. Though not opposed to the rule change for young ruminants, it requested clarification on how that class of animal would be determined.
“BFO is not opposed to changes to cattle transport regulations, provided they are based on sound, science-based evidence that clearly demonstrates how the changes would irrefutably improve animal welfare and provide the highest percentage of positive outcomes for transported animals without reducing the competitiveness of the Ontario beef industry.”
The comment period for changes closed last month. Although Bowman said it was impossible to say what the next step by the agency would be or when it would be, he said in past cases where they’ve recommended broad changes, there’s been two rounds of consultations.