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Building ‘Team North America’ For Livestock Transport

CALGARY, Alta. - Canada and the US share the longest undefended border in the world. As evidenced at the recent Livestock Transport Conference in Calgary, Alta., the livestock and transport industries...

CALGARY, Alta. –Canada and the US share the longest undefended border in the world. As evidenced at the recent Livestock Transport Conference in Calgary, Alta., the livestock and transport industries in both countries also share a strong commitment to progress in improving the care of livestock hauled within and across their borders. Leading examples of this commitment are training and certification programs for livestock transport, developed and implemented in both countries through cross-sector cooperation.

These programs include Canada’s Certified Livestock Transporter (CLT) program and the US-based Transporter Quality Assurance (TQA) program. At the same time, industry North America-wide is moving toward third-party livestock transport audits as part of quality assurance, lead by the recent development of the American Meat Institute’s Animal Welfare Audit for Transportation. All are programs that not only show industry leadership but reflect where progress is headed around the globe.

The next step in the evolution of this trend is to further streamline approaches, says Susan Church, manager of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), a major organizer and sponsor of the conference.

“All of the countries and programs have different approaches, but the information on how to properly load, handle and unload livestock is virtually the same whether you’re in North America, Europe or Australia,” says Church. “That gives us a great basis to work together to continually streamline what we’re doing. Truckers truck all over. Our industries cross borders. Our programs always need to be mindful of that.”

The Livestock Transport Conference was designed to bring people together and raise the profile of livestock transport, to help support that type of thinking and progress, she says. Over 120 people attended the conference including transporters, livestock producers, researchers and other industry leaders from across North America.

A core part of the program included updates on the livestock transport training programs, which included presentations by Church on the CLT program and by Erik Risa of the National Pork Board on the TQA program.

Canada’s industry-driven progress

The Certified Livestock Transporter (CLT) program is a comprehensive training course and support service for livestock truckers, shippers and receivers. It focuses on the humane and safe relocation of livestock and the regulatory requirements for Canada and the US.

CLT was started in Alberta based on industry -largely through AFAC -looking into what was needed to support high quality livestock transport. The key priority that emerged was training, and a series of consultations and developments lead to implementation of the program in 2007. It builds on previous industry progress in developing humane handling guidelines for unfit livestock.

“It was industry that drove the whole process,” says Church. “And that continues today as the CLT program evolves.”

The CLT training program component offers core content for all species and breakout modules for beef, hogs, horses, sheep and poultry. CLT provides species-specific customized training on livestock handling, loading and biosecurity. It includes recognizing and dealing with livestock not fit to be transported and emergency accident response.

“The whole concept of CLT is to be multi-species, because many of our drivers handle more than one species,” says Church. “Our core manual is a living document and we are always looking to improve.”

Moving toward universal training

The CLT program is already built to dovetail in many respects with the US-based TQA program, she says. Working together to further streamline approaches is a top priority for the future.

“In my view, other than the Canadian laws, the core content of the two programs is parallel. Most of the TQA trainers in Canada are including the Canadian laws. And the groups involved with both programs are now talking about how we can build the training component into one program that everybody recognizes.

“I think in the next year we’re going to see more of a melding and collaboration, and that’s a big part of what the Livestock Transport Conference is about -driving things down the road collectively from the standpoint of our programming in North America.”

That feeling is shared by Risa, of the National Pork Board. The board delivers the Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) program, a USbased program that is also recognized and conducts training sessions in Canada.

Though focused solely on swine, the TQA program offers certification and shares the same goals of helping transporters, producers and handlers with proper livestock transport.

“That’s why we’re participating in events like this Livestock Transport Conference,”says Risa. “We want to continue to have a dialogue, whether that’s for North America or across species. Livestock care is a cross-industry, cross species issue, and there are many benefits to working together.”

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