The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that the import policy for small ruminants intended for breeding purposes will change, effective February 1, 2016. One of the purposes of the policy is to prevent disease from entering Canada, including scrapie, a slow-moving but fatal central nervous system disease in goats and sheep that limits productivity and poses a severe risk to the viability of the small ruminant industries.
Among other revisions, the policy will require imported females to come from a farm that is a “negligible risk premises”. A detailed description of “negligible risk premises” is provided in the policy document, and includes farms in the United States (US) enrolled in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Scrapie Flock Certification Program Export Monitored stream for a minimum of five years (even if they have not yet reached “Export Certified” status).
Males imported from the US must either originate from a “negligible risk premises” or be imported onto a Canadian farm that has been enrolled in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP) for a minimum of one year. Under this option, there are additional post-import restrictions placed on imported animals including how they are kept and where they can move.
Rams with specific scrapie-resistant genotypes will also be allowed entry without further constraints. Ontario’s goat industry has received funding to test goat breeds and herds for genotypes that may confer resistance and susceptibility to scrapie, which is a significant development for the sector. In the future, should this research gain international acceptance, we could also see the possible implementation of a similar policy for bucks.
In addition to scrapie-related restrictions, there are other disease testing requirements for goats, some of which depend on the state of origin. The updated policy strengthens restrictions on the import of new genetics, however Ontario Goat understands that these additional measures are necessary and are designed to protect the national goat herd.
Import policies for all species are reviewed and revised regularly to ensure that they remain in line with current domestic disease control policies and that they reflect the most current science in disease control.