VICTORIA - Proposed changes to the Animal Health Act will ensure B.C.'s reputation as a producer of safe and healthy foods and animals.
The changes would help prevent the spread of animal disease as well as improving the response to a potential outbreak. These changes are essential to meet our Agrifoods Strategy commitment to expand domestic and international markets.
The proposed changes follow consultation with B.C.'s livestock, poultry and honey producers, federal and provincial government agencies and more than 300 submissions to the ministry's web-based citizen consultation. Today's emphasis on food safety and security require we modernize the act, which has not been substantially changed since 1948.
B.C. Agrifoods Strategy included the development of a new animal health framework as one of 49 actions that will lead the B.C. agrifoods sector to becoming a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017.
Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture -
"These measures reinforce the importance British Columbian food producers place in providing their local and international customers with a healthy and trusted product. Our government is absolutely committed to ensuring B.C. uses the best disease prevention methods possible, and is prepared to immediately and effectively respond to an animal health emergency."
Bill Vanderspek, manager, Chicken Marketing Board -
"An animal-health emergency can be devastating to producers who have invested their entire lives in producing the best possible foods for British Columbians, and the communities they are part of. The poultry industry has invested significantly in disease prevention measures on farm. The modernized act complements this preventative approach and better prepares all to respond to emergencies, to the benefit of all British Columbians."
Kevin Boon, B.C. Cattlemen's Association -
"Producers and governments need to be active in disease prevention and ready for possible outbreaks. A strong Animal Health Act will help us to ensure we have the best plan possible. The new legislation should also support our ongoing efforts to expand markets for B.C. beef by offering consumers in Canada and abroad the assurance that their beef is being raised to the highest of standards."
The legislative process for Bill 37, The Animal Health Amendment Act, can be followed at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th4th/votes/bills-list_hansard.htm
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Agriculture
April 30, 2012 Ministry of Agriculture
Measures to improve food and consumer safety
Proposed changes to the Animal Health Act will enable the Province to:
- Bring B.C.'s legislation into harmony with other provinces and trading partners, and provide increased assurances about the safety and traceability of B.C. animals and products.
- Improve the early detection of animal diseases by working with animal producers to implement expanded monitoring programs.
- Clearly state the process producers must follow in the event they identify a disease that has been designated as having significant consequences for animal or human health.
- Take immediate, effective and direct action to investigate animal disease outbreaks and if necessary, act on an emergency basis with expedited procedures.
- Introduce surveillance zones, and actions that must be taken within them, to monitor areas around a quarantine zone.
- Require producers to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of introducing and spreading disease, ensure employees are trained to prevent and respond to disease, maintain records of animal origin and movement, abide by inspector's orders, and report any incidents of disease or unusual illness.
- Increase disease control measures such as restricting the movement or sale of animals, food products and animal by-products such as wool or hides derived from them.
- Cleary define the role and powers inspectors have regarding the enforcement of the act, regulations, conditions of licences and permits, and orders.
- Increase the maximum penalty under the act from $2,000 to $75,000 and create an administrative penalty system for less serious contraventions.
Ministry of Agriculture