In May of 2005, the Canadian Sheep Breeder’s Association, Canadian Sheep Federation, and the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency undertook the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Pilot Project and The National Survey of Scrapie Genetics in Canadian Purebred Sheep with financial agreements made with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Given the recent focus on transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) in livestock industries and with scrapie control programs in place in other countries, these projects represent an important steps forward in eradicating scrapie and maintaining and developing markets for Canadian sheep and goats.
In the spring of 2010, Scrapie Canada received project funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agri-Flexibility Fund for the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Eradication Plan. This 3 year industry driven project will support the implementation of a National Scrapie Prevalence Study in both the sheep and goat industries, the development of a strategic national scrapie eradication plan and support the continuation of the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP). Partnering on the project are the
Canadian Sheep Federation, the Canadian National Goat Federation and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The VSFCP is a national flock/herd scrapie risk management program for the Canadian sheep and goat industries and is available to any sheep or goat producer who agrees to meet the requirements of the program. Primary benefits to participating producers include the individual risk protection against scrapie in their flock/herd. Over time, producers will have their flock/herd recognized as being at a much lower risk for scrapie than the rest of the farms in the national herd. This recognition will increase trade opportunities within Canada and allows increased access to the import of live animals from the United States. The long term goal of the VSFCP is to eradicate scrapie from the national flock and herd and help open up market access.
The decreased risk of scrapie is mitigated through a program of limited acquisition of females combined with on-farm disease surveillance. Participation in the VSFCP is voluntary, but once enrolled, following the rules of the program is mandatory. Participation in the program requires that producers work with a scrapie accredited veterinarian, conduct deadstock testing on all animals over 12 months of age (with at least one sample submission per 12-month period), maintain comprehensive flock/herd inventories including documentation of the movement of all animals and close the flock/herd to certain animals (except from other flocks/herds with the same or higher VSFCP status). Program requirements are established based on a quality disease risk management system and each point is key to determining the presence of the disease and reducing the risk of a flock/herd developing the disease. Certification Page
Many other countries, including the USA and Great Britain, are already working to reduce the incidence of scrapie and eventually eradicate it from their flocks. In order to remain competitive and maintain market access, it is in Canada's best interest to increase resistance to scrapie so that it does not become a trade barrier in the future.