Sheep trucking requirements a concern for OSF members

Two out of three resolutions presented were carried at the recent Ontario Sheep Farmers (OSF) annual meeting. 

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Members voted down a resolution requesting funds for an advocate to address declining lamb prices and increased import pressures by asking the Farm Products Marketing Commission to grant OSF market regulation powers on the pricing of lamb and mutton meat sold in Ontario. The resolution also asked the advocate focus on provincial and federal import policy issues to advance Ontario’s sheep sector’s economic welfare. 

The OSF invested a portion of 2021’s surplus budget into advertising in the GTA, on social media, radio ads, direct marketing recipe cards and updating the lamb recipe site with 50 language translations.

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A second resolution directed the board to lobby for livestock transport requirement changes that would acknowledge that short hauls should not require a manifest. 

“I certainly don’t shy away from obligations regarding paperwork and following proper procedures,” said Colleen Acres, who moved the resolution. “It just seems incredibly bureaucratic that we are being asked to do these things when the system isn’t in place to do it.”

Acres said the OSF could work with other provincial sheep and commodity organizations that have expressed similar concerns so they can present a united front.

“I certainly get why there’s a need for these documentations. I just don’t think that we have set ourselves up for everybody being required and mandated to do this,” she said. 

The motion carried. 

The final resolution tabled by District 11 advocated working with Farm and Food Care Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Solicitor General (MSG) to ensure MSG inspectors have a trained industry representative or farmer accompany inspectors during farm visits. 

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Additionally, the resolution asked for assurances inspectors wouldn’t enter buildings or pasture enclosures without the owner present to reduce potential harm from livestock protection dogs and livestock while ensuring adherence to biosecurity protocols. 

Shelagh Finn said the board passed a similar resolution in 2010 to establish a group of farmers trained to support others who are confronted by animal health and welfare organizations. 

In 2021 Finn contacted OSF chair John Hemsted to ensure she had assistance when the MSG inspector arrived. He verified that Finn was a Master Shepherds’ Program graduate and that her operation was in proper order. 

“I would personally not have felt comfortable doing it on my own,” said Finn. “I do believe that that system is in place, and if it isn’t, we should put it in place again because it makes a huge difference.” 

The motion passed with 91 per cent in favour.