Despite rumours to the contrary, the Canada-Alberta BSE Surveillance Program (CABESP) is still alive and very active.
“There were some fairly significant changes made to the program last July,” says Dr. Gerald Hauer, Chief Provincial Veterinarian, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Edmonton. “What we found is some farmers were under the impression that, with these changes , the program had ended. This isn’t true; the program is still on and still as important as it was before.
“BSE surveillance is critical to demonstrate to our international trading partners that, if BSE is present, it is present in very low numbers, and to demonstrate that BSE prevention measures like the enhanced feed ban are working. We need to have enough animals to prove that the prevalence of BSE is very low and declining. While changes to the program focused our testing on the animals that yielded the highest surveillance point values, it is vital that producers continue to make their animals available for testing.”
Eligible producers continue to be reimbursed $225 for each eligible sample. Reimbursement to producers under the CABSESP is to offset the costs of having an animal assessed for eligibility, sampled if eligible, to retain control of the carcass until a negative BSE test result is available, and to properly dispose of the carcass.
Hauer notes there is some new flexibility when it comes to verifying the age of the animal.
“Feedback from veterinarians and producers indicates we were missing a fair number of samples from cattle who were the appropriate age but farmers lacked the records to prove it,” says Hauer. “In consultation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we’ve decided that we’ll allow the veterinarians more flexibility in determining the age. Previously, certified veterinarians could use dentition to verify the age on eligible animals aged 30 to 60 months in cases where farm records weren’t available. We’ve now expanded this to include animals in the full range of 30 to 107 months.”
Producers who think they have an eligible animal are advised to call their local veterinary clinic and ask for a CABSESP certified veterinarian. For more information on the CABSESP program, call 780-644-3967 or fax 780-422-5734.