Cattle-tracking program gives ranchers an edge

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency instituted a radio-frequency tag program for all beef cattle in the wake of the BSE crisis

Cow with tags

Cow with tags

Cam Fortems – Kamloops This Week

A mandatory cattle-tracking program in Canada gives ranchers a unique edge in marketing, a industry leader recently told a Kamloops conference.

The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association and the B.C. Association of Abattoirs recently hosted a workshop on cattle traceability and what it can offer beyond its stated goal of food safety.

The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency instituted a radio-frequency tag program for all beef cattle in the wake of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis a decade ago.

That system allows quick tracing of animals in cases of disease outbreak.

But, Larry Thomas, national co-ordinator for the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) for Canadian Cattlemen, told KTW it also gives retailers and producers a window into production that can be used for marketing or feedback on quality of the product.

Radio-frequency identification tags are not mandatory in the United States and industry leaders asked the question: “Can we bring value to the fact we have to get tags in Canada?”

Thomas said the industry believes the tags give ranchers in Canada an advantage.

For example, ranchers can retain ID numbers and determine how their animals are graded after they are sent to Alberta packing plants.

“Today, a rancher sells the animal at an auction and that’s the last thing they have for that animal.”

On the other side, Thomas said, retailers will be able to use the tags to determine, for example, if beef is free of hormones or vaccines.

They can advertise that fact.

“It’s end-market intelligence.”

While the radio-frequency tags are mandatory, use of BIXS is not.

Thomas said the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is advising ranchers to use the system, which replaces a difficult-to-use earlier version.

 

There is no fee to use the system.