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Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry needs keep better livestock disease records, the provincial auditor says

Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry needs keep better livestock disease records, the provincial auditor says

Judy Ferguson outlined recommendations for the ministry in her latest report

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture successfully prevents and controls the spread of livestock diseases, but it needs to improve its documentation, according to Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor.

In nine cases of livestock disease, the ministry’s records were incomplete, according to Judy Ferguson’s Dec. 12 report.

Producers did their part by reporting any signs of livestock disease to the ministry right away. But the ministry needs to keep better records to protect a $2 billion industry.

“The ministry was notified of positive cases of livestock diseases within 24 hours of the case being confirmed,” the report’s backgrounder says. “However, its record keeping of cases of livestock disease needs improvement. The ministry needs to consistently summarize key information for each positive case of livestock disease to confirm appropriate action was taken, and to permanently record actions taken.”

Ferguson did, however, applaud the ministry’s commitment to livestock disease surveillance.

This year, the ministry performed regular surveillance tests for six of 14 provincial notifiable disease. They include rabies, porcine epidemic diarrhea, anthrax, swine delta virus, swine influenza and transmissible gastroenteritis, according to the report.

And the provincial auditor recommends the ministry keeps these efforts up.

Ferguson also recommended that Ministry maintain its support for decisions on which livestock diseases require response plans.

Lyle Stewart, Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister, agrees with Ferguson’s comments.

“She suggests we need to consistently summarize key information for each positive (livestock disease) case,” he said, according to 620 CKRM. “And document support for decisions we make on these diseases and the spread of them – better than we have. And we agree with these recommendations.”

Ferguson’s report also included an update on previous recommendations she made to the ministry.

Bonnie Lysyk, then provincial auditor, suggested in 2013 that the ministry review and confirm that “pre-1996 intensive livestock operations have sufficient controls to protect water resources.”

All but 7 per cent of these operations are now compliant with the 2013 recommendations, according to the report.

The ministry expects to complete its work for the remaining farms by March 31, 2018.

Top photo: Judy Ferguson/Global News

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