Canada’s House of Commons agriculture committee has issued a list of recommendations to protect against animal biosecurity risks, such as African swine fever (ASF) and avian influenza (AI).
In its update on the state of Canada’s preparedness for biosecurity risks, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food listed seven recommendations:
1. Improve Canadian biosecurity preparedness by:
- Working closely with international partners to share best practices and coordinate efforts in enhancing biosecurity measures, especially considering the ease with which diseases can cross borders in a globalized world
- Increasing funding for the development and implementation of innovative biosecurity technologies and practices, such as sensor technologies, automated disinfection systems and improved animal traceability systems
- Conducting annual reviews of biosecurity protocols in collaboration with industry stakeholders to ensure that the measures are up to date and effective.
2. Develop a national awareness campaign on the importance of biosecurity measures and high animal welfare standards in preventing the spread of animal diseases. This campaign should target industry stakeholders and the general public.
3. Improve Canada’s ability to protect animal health and respond to animal disease outbreaks by:
- Engaging in public-private partnerships to develop new vaccines, treatments for animal diseases, and best management practices for the health of live animals
- Encouraging the standardization and harmonization of requirements for animal medications with trusted jurisdictions to ensure long-term accessibility to these products
- Developing and maintaining vaccine banks, as the government has proposed to do for foot-and-mouth disease in budget 2023, to allow for a rapid response in the event of an outbreak
4. Prioritize signing protocol agreements with its trading partners for diseases such as African swine fever.
5. Review the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s compensation policy, when the destruction of animals is ordered, to include all cleaning and disinfection costs.
6. Ensure Canadian border and inspection services:
- Have the necessary resources to verify compliance with import requirements that address biosecurity threats to Canadian livestock – including adequate training in agricultural and agrifood matters – while facilitating international trade by keeping Canadian border crossings and points of entry operating efficiently and safely
- Enforce penalties to encourage compliance with the Health of Animals Act’s requirements for imports of food and animal goods and consider increasing penalties for offenders
- Enforce the reciprocity of standards between countries
7. Review its regulatory requirements for the disposal of specified risk material to allow Canadian beef producers to compete more effectively in international markets and to increase regional beef slaughtering capacity, while ensuring that any changes it makes neither jeopardize biosecurity nor compromise Canada’s negligible risk status for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.