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Canada close to receiving important BSE designation

Canada close to receiving important BSE designation

The World Organisation for Animal Health is examining Canada’s application for negligible-risk status

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Canada’s beef sector is close to receiving an important designation from a global health body.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has recommended to its other delegates that Canada’s application to change its status from a controlled-risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to a negligible-risk country meets the necessary requirements.

Canada has been a controlled-risk country since 2007.

Canada must meet multiple conditions before it can achieve the negligible-risk status, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

“Eleven years must pass since the birth of the last animal with BSE and that last animal was born in 2009” he told “There’s a full dossier of requirements we have to meet and prove that we’ve met that we have to submit to the OIE.”

OIE logoThe Canadian cattle sector collects upwards of 30,000 animal and feed samples per year to help it meet surveillance goals.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency submitted Canada’s report in July 2020. The OIE’s scientific review group completed its work in late February and recommended Canada be recognized as having negligible risk with it comes to BSE.

A few steps remain before Canada can officially receive its status, Laycraft said.

“Our report is subject to a 60-day comment period for those who aren’t on the review committee to ask questions,” he said. “Then there’s a formal vote at the OIE general assembly in May where we can receive the designation.”

Canada’s last case of BSE occurred in 2015 in a six-year-old beef cow on an Alberta ranch.

Upon hearing of the confirmation, multiple countries imposed restrictions on imports of Canadian beef. They included Taiwan, Peru, Belarus, Indonesia and South Korea.

Since then, Canada has regained access to most markets. But this designation from the OIE would provide even more opportunities, Laycraft said.

“There are still some restrictions on over 30-month beef and some countries in Asia want to see us get to negligible-risk,” he said. “There’s demand for offal products in Asia where we hope to be able to capitalize on if we get the designation from the OIE.”

Canada’s federal minister of agriculture is confident the OIE will give the Canadian beef sector the status it seeks.

“Although we still need to await the final vote, I am optimistic that this will soon allow them to expand their markets for cattle and beef exports to the U.S. and other foreign markets,” Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a March 12 statement. “Our government will continue to stand up for our hard-working beef producers who provide top-quality products."

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The Anaerobic Digester at Barstow's Longview Farm

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As more and more people discover the importance of healthy soil in relation to healthy plants, pastures and gardens, many are also discovering that manure is one of a farm’s most valuable resources. Cows, in particular, are extremely efficient converters of mature plant matter into nutrient-rich, highly degradable organic material. But fresh, or raw, manure can cause problems for the local ecosystem if it is not managed properly.

At Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, MA, Denise Barstow and family have taken an innovative approach to manure management. With 350 cows and heifers in their dairy herd, they have a bountiful supply of fresh manure each day, and also accept food waste from area grocery stores, restaurants and processors.

In the fall of 2015, the farm began a partnership with Vanguard Renewables which included the addition of an anaerobic digester. Barstow’s now has one of the largest and most modern anaerobic digestion systems in New England. The zero-waste, closed-loop, farm-powered anaerobic digester converts farm and food waste into electricity, heat, and fertilizer.

The 2,100 Mwh of electrical energy produced from the digester powers the farm and heats water to warm farm buildings and the family homes. The farm-powered anaerobic digester also provides enough energy to power 1,600 average Massachusetts homes in the surrounding community via the Eversource grid and to the Cabot Creamery/Agri-Mark Cooperative butter plant in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to which Barstow’s also supplies milk.

This video was created by Barstow's Longview Farm as a part of a NOFA/Mass MDAR Dairy Promotion Project highlighting the positive impacts on the environment by Massachusetts dairy farms


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