AF CONTRIBUTOR |CALGARY
Many cattle producers view livestock inspection as a necessary evil – a time-consuming and occasionally frustrating process required to show you’re in compliance with regulations.
But Alberta’s livestock inspection agency says it wants to use inspection to put money in the pockets of producers, feedlot operators, and processors.
“We’re moving from compliance to customer service,” said David Moss, chief operating officer of Livestock Identification Services Ltd. (LIS).
The key, he said, is leveraging its real-time animal movement data collection and analysis system.
The company is championing its biosecurity initiatives in global markets. It is also wants to use its database (the largest livestock movement database in North America) for carbon sequestering and disease modeling to assist government in key industry issues such as traceability.
Moss said the non-profit company – which is overseen by a board of industry representatives – is also fighting on producers’ behalf for both improved animal tracking technology and industry-focused legislation. For example, LIS, in co-operation with industry and government, was instrumental in getting the security declaration written into the Livestock Identification and Commerce Act in January 2009, a value-added component of the new manifest that now provides clear title to the purchaser of livestock when properly completed. This behind-the-scenes work has a major impact, said Moss.
“We provide a vital link between government and industry and often serve as a communication portal between both the two,” said Moss. “We’re not motivated by making a profit because I’d rather leave the money in the producers’ pockets.”
He said inspection fees haven’t risen in 20 years and at $1 per head are the lowest in the country.
Saskatchewan charges $1.65/ head while the cost in B. C. is $1.60/ head.
All of its inspectors have taken a certificate program at Olds College, and are able to answer producers’ questions on legislation and policies, industry services and technologies, and market demands, said Moss. More than 250,000 manifests are inputted into the LIS database annually and company has direct dealings with about 22,000 producers (roughly 88 per cent of all producers) in Alberta each year.
“Our inspectors are local and in touch with the roots of their communities,” said Moss, who formerly operated a feedlot near Bassano.
“Government is starting to recognize that we are a very valuable partner to get information out to producers, since we already have trust relationships built with producers. Whether that’s talking to producers on farm or at trade shows or exhibitions, we’re getting more involved in getting key messages out to the industry.”
Moss said the company knows the inspection process can be frustrating but said it is actively listening to complains and searching for ways to address them. LIS was set up 1998 when the Alberta government exited the livestock-inspection business.
“We’renotmotivatedby makingaprofitbecause I’dratherleavethe moneyintheproducers’ pockets.”
LIS’S CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER