Jeff Clark, the manager of PigTrace Canada, says fines for failing to report movements of live hogs could come into effect as early as later this year.
Rolf Penner, a grain, special crops, and hog farmer at Morris, MB, isn’t surprised. When the pork industry introduced the program and made it mandatory, Penner then wasn’t convinced the industry needed this new mandatory programme. “While an interesting programme, I’m not particularly pleased with it. I’m not sure whether it will do what it is supposed to do,” he said. “The gist of it is when pigs come to my yard I need to report it. When the pigs leave my yard, whether going to market or cleaning up the dead pigs, I have to report it to a central agency.”
He says everyone talks about how important this information is and how valuable it is and yet they draft him to provide the information. “Certainly there is no monetary value in it for me as far as I can tell because no one is paying me for my information. Basically another cost of doing business,” said Penner.
“Years back they came out with the Canadian Quality Assurance programme. Now they tell us that isn’t enough, consumers now need this really detailed tracking system.”
Effective July 1, 2014, under changes to Canada’s Health of Animals Regulation, the reporting of movements of live swine in Canada became mandatory.
Under the regulation both the shipper and receiver of hogs must report the number of pigs moved, their origin and destination, the time they were moved and the license number of the truck or trailer that did the transportation to the PigTrace Canada database within seven days of that movement.
Program manager Clark, the whole thing an initiative of the Canadian Pork Council, says, based on the number of pig premises that are reporting regularly, about 65 per cent of movements are being reported.
“PigTrace is mandated by federal regulation so it’s the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that is responsible for enforcement,” says Clark. “Since the program came into effect July 1, 2014 mostly it’s been education.”

The CFIA is writing some letters of non-compliance and that’s really the highest level of correction a person can get for not complying with the regulation, so still education mode.
“There will be a fine structure coming in and it really depends on a lot of factors but I’m told it could be later this year, 2015, but I don’t know the levels of fines per say. They are publicly available in a separate regulation,” he says. “Once that separate regulation is amended to include pigs we will know the specific infractions that could result in a fine. What we’ve learned is, if someone has built up a history of letters of non-compliance and issues, they could see themselves being fined in the future.”
Clark estimates 99 per cent of all commercial farms throughout Canada have a Premise ID number. There are far more backyard hobby farmers in Canada they didn’t know about and every day they’re hearing from new people that are just finding out about the program.
Rolf Penner says he’s been doing it since it started last year.
“We have a system that works most of the time. Dead stock pickup doesn’t always get reported right away but we haven’t gotten a warning yet,” he said. “I was wondering when they were going to start enforcing this and how many people were actually doing it. Sounds like they’ve got quite a few that haven’t.”
For him, the whole thing is a waste of time but because it is a legal requirement, he’ll do it. If there was a problem it wouldn’t take him more than half an hour to put the needed information together.
“Same with everyone else I deal with. The new system I suppose is quicker but it’s not that much quicker. And it is a royal pain having to report all this stuff all of the time,” says Penner. “I also predict that this is just the beginning. They are going to want more and more information all the time.” •
— By Harry Siemens