With the fall calf run under way, Alberta beef producers are being reminded about the province's new livestock traceability regulations.
New requirements now apply under the Animal Health Act as follows:

Mandatory premises ID - All livestock producers and anyone who owns or keeps animals (other than household pets) and those who operate sites where animals commingle - such as feedlots - must obtain a Premises Identification Number from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Mandatory cattle age verification - All cattle born in Alberta after January 1, 2009, must be age verified, with birthdates registered with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency prior to leaving their farm of origin.

Along with animal movement tracking, these form the pillars of Alberta's livestock traceability system. Traceability is about animal health, consumer assurance, minimizing economic impacts and maintaining and expanding Alberta's global market share.

The legislation and regulations supporting traceability are crucial to the agriculture sector's viability and help provide a competitive edge in an increasingly aggressive global market.

Alberta's advances in traceability are expected to form the backbone for a national program. Provincial and territorial agriculture ministers met in July and agreed to partner with the federal government to implement a national traceability system by 2011.

"Traceability is important," says George Groeneveld, Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "We in Alberta are more than pleased to be innovators. We believe it is our role to do our best to support producers. It is simply good business."

In its broadest definition, traceability is the ability to trace the current and historical location of an animal, group of animals or animal products from one point in the supply chain to another.

"A traceability system enables government to react quickly and effectively to address disease outbreaks, minimizing the economic impact and maintaining global market access," says Groeneveld.

The need for traceability was underlined during the minister's trade mission to Asia last year. Many government and industry officials emphasized that traceability and age verification are the minimum requirements for market access.

Value-added exports represented 41 per cent - or $3.3 billion - of Alberta's total agri-food exports in 2008, including $1.1 billion worth of beef and $342 million worth of pork.

Here is where producers can get more information about traceability: to register premises online or to obtain a registration form, visit ww.agriculture.alberta.ca/premises (if you have already applied for an Alberta Premises ID number, your number will be mailed to you shortly) to register birthdates of cattle, visit www.canadaid.ca if you have questions or need assistance, please contact the Ag-Info Centre at 310-3276 or visit www.agriculture.alberta.ca