a briefing note

For the last six years, since the discovery of BSE in Canada, Canadian breeding sheep and goats
have not been able to access the United States or Mexican markets.
Canada’s small ruminant industry is asking that support be given to conduct a scrapie prevalence
study. Since 2003, the industry has been working diligently to re-access these markets and one of
our key stumbling blocks is our inability to set target eradication dates for scrapie. A Business
Plan that has been developed for a prevalence study is attached. Determining the prevalence of
scrapie is extremely important. It will enable the industry to focus its resources, as well as
develop an eradication plan and target date for becoming OIE recognized as scrapie-free.
There also needs to be an increased emphasis on re-instating exports of small ruminant breeding
animals to the U.S. and Mexico, as the small ruminant industry has lost considerable income
since 2003. The exclusion of small ruminants from the United States Department of
Agriculture’s (USDA) original rule was debatable, since sheep and goats do not naturally
contract BSE. At each subsequent new rule proposal to allow Canadian ruminants or their
products back into the U.S. and Mexican markets, requests were made to include small
ruminants. However, the industry was excluded from both the first and second rule processes.
When the industry questioned why small ruminants were not in rule two, we were told by
negotiators that they would subsequently be included in a third “comprehensive rule.” Recently
we have discovered that this is not the case and that there is no timetable for small ruminants.
 Since the presence of Scrapie in our flocks and herds is limiting the industry’s ability to
access international markets, determining its prevalence in Canada and developing an
eradication plan is must. Every day that the industry is unable to export means lost sales
and a longer period of time to rebuild our position in the market place. The small
ruminant industry believes that this work falls in line with the Minister’s commitment to
market access for Canadian agri-food and the development of the Market Access
 Ensuring that Canadian producers have access to international markets for their genetics
benefits domestic production as well. The border closure has impacted the industry’s
ability to meet its domestic demand. Since 2004 the sheep industry has seen its breeding
flock shrink by 100,000 which means there has been an 8 per cent drop in the number of
lambs processed in Canada. This is occurring at the same time that demand for lamb in
Canada has increased by 10 per cent. This is why it is so imperative that emphasis is
placed on re-instating the export of small ruminant breeding animals.
As long as Scrapie remains in our national flocks and herds, Canadian producers will be
faced with welfare and economic issues related to the disease and possible trade action
impacting other species. The surveillance and eradication of Scrapie is part of a
comprehensive National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.
Since 1999, $10 million has gone into programs and initiatives that are working towards
eradicating scrapie in Canada. It should be noted that most of the $10 million has gone
into ad hock eradication rather than an organised program like the one being proposed.
Unfortunately, the border closure in 2003 had a major impact on the industry, with
significant losses to income. These impacts continue to be felt today, a full six years after
the initial closure. It is estimated that due to the border closure, Canada has lost
approximately $2M per year in revenue since 2003. To date, this figure would total
$10M in lost revenue.
Similarly, the US has invested a significant amount of funding into scrapie eradication
programs. Reports out of the US state that scrapie alone costs the American industry
approximately $20M annually.
The U.S. has been working for many years on scrapie eradication, developing a well
rounded package that is made up of numerous components. These include a flock
certification program; an eradication and compensation program for flocks/ herds that are
tested positive for scrapie; a regulated inter-state sheep and goat ID program; and a
national surveillance program. The U.S. administration contributes $18.6 million
towards its scrapie initiatives annually. Through these initiatives, the U.S. has set a goal
to become scrapie-free by 2017.
Great Britain developed the National Scrapie Plan (NSP) to protect animal health and
public health by reducing and eventually eradicating scrapie. The NSP began in 2001
with the Ram Genotyping Scheme for Purebred Flocks. This program genotypes rams in
purebred flocks registered with a breed society. It focuses on breeding to increase the
level of the most scrapie resistant allele (ARR) and decreasing the level of the susceptible
allele (VRQ). Since 2001, the NSP has been supplemented by further schemes and oneoff initiatives such as the Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme- a compensation program
for flocks/ herds that are tested positive for scrapie. Other schemes included a Flock
Register Scheme and a Semen Genotyping Scheme.
Northern Ireland has the Northern Ireland Scrapie Plan (NISP). The aim of the NISP is
to reduce the incidence of TSEs in sheep, to increase the genetic resistance of sheep to
TSEs, and eventually to eliminate scrapie from the national sheep flock. The NISP is a
voluntary, long-term initiative consisting of several genotyping schemes to increase the
genetic resistance of sheep to TSEs. It consists of a Ram Genotyping Scheme, a Ewe
Genotyping Scheme and the Compulsory Scrapie Flock Scheme.
Only two countries are considered scrapie-free: New Zealand and Australia.
Canadian Sheep Federation
Canadian Sheep Breeders’ Association
Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers
Canadian National Goat Federation
Canadian Livestock Genetics Association
June 9, 2009
The Canadian small ruminant industry is represented by three national organizations: the
Canadian Sheep Breeders Association (CSBA), the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers
(CCWG), the Canadian National Goat Federation (CNGF), the Canadian Livestock Genetics
Association (CLGA) and the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF). These organizations work
tirelessly to represent Canada’s sheep industry which consists of 11,000 producers who produce
789,500 lambs annually with a market value of $125 million.
Scrapie is a legacy-based disease in sheep and goats that can be controlled in Canada by duediligent attention to prevention and husbandry of individual producers. Contrary to other
countries, the Canadian sheep and goat industries had an enviable reputation where scrapie is
concerned. This favourable standing resulted from the stringent measures taken within the
national sheep flock and goat herd whenever scrapie was detected. Nonetheless, in the last seven
years Canada’s national approach to eradicating scrapie has not kept pace with other countries
(e.g. EU and the United States), due to inadequate prioritization and resourcing. Both the
Canadian sheep and goat industries wish to continue to play a leading role in helping producers
determine the existence of scrapie in their sheep/ goat operation, and to minimize the risk of
introducing the disease into clean flocks or herds.
Adequate detection of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) in small ruminants has
been identified as a trade barrier with the U.S. and is the published reason for the current ban of
exports of Canadian sheep and goats to the U.S. Prior to the border closure, trade in market
lambs to the US represented as much as 20% of our annual production. In 2002, the small
ruminants exported from Canada totalled $12.5 million; a value that was expected to increase
71% in 2003 if the border had not closed. In 2007, Canada implemented a new regulation to
allow breeding animals from the US into Canada. This has been in effect now for two years and
was implemented with the hope that it would be reciprocated by the US.
The U.S. administration has implemented, and funded, an aggressive National Accelerated
Scrapie Eradication Program, contributing $18.6 million towards the following initiatives:
1. Permanent and adequate Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
epidemiology staff dedicated to the implementation of the program
2. Permanent and adequate APHIS inspection staff dedicated to collection of scrapie
surveillance samples
3. Financial incentives for producers to submit samples.
4. Compliance and funds available for diagnostic lab expenses.
5. Government funded sheep and goat identification program (tags and database)
adequate for scrapie surveillance.
6. Financial indemnity for depopulated animals
The position of the U.S. is that in order for trade to resume, Canada needs to develop and
implement a National Scrapie Eradication Program similar to the U.S. model, including
establishing an appropriate nationwide scrapie surveillance program. This position is based on
the concept that without surveillance for scrapie, sheep and goats in Canada could be harbouring
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). It should also be noted that some South American
countries (e.g. Brazil) will not purchase sheep or goat genetics from Canada because of the risk
of scrapie and potentially BSE.
Another concern is that without a national surveillance program to compliment the BSE
surveillance program, scrapie might have a negative effect on trade in the Canadian cattle
industry. In fact, when reviewing the CFIA’s draft import policies, which were written
specifically for bovines, there is a clear indication that a country’s incidence of TSEs (including
scrapie) will impact their ability to export bovine products.
Lastly, the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission, made amendments to chapters
of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, including the Scrapie chapter. As part of these
amendments, the OIE has presented new recommendations concerning scrapie and scrapie
surveillance. For example, Article paragraph 4 recommends “an ongoing awareness
program for veterinarians, farmers, and workers involved in transportation, marketing and
slaughter of small ruminants to encourage reporting of cases showing clinical signs of scrapie.”
Also, Article paragraph 2 states “the Member has in place a surveillance program, based
on a combination of testing all small ruminants showing clinical signs consistent with scrapie,
and appropriate samples of fallen stock, dead-in-transit stock and culled-for-age stock…”
In Canada, Industry partners have applied for, and received, funding through the Advancing
Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Program (ACAAF). The piloting of the National
Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP) and the National Survey of Scrapie
Genetics in Canadian Purebred Sheep are both funded by contribution agreements established
between the industry and the ACAAF program.
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