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  • Management Article
    The Hot Topic for 06? Tags/Age Verification!
    By Nancy Noecker - Beef Cow/Calf Specialist OMAFRA

    As we start the second week of 06 the one topic I have heard discussed in "every" beef meeting, coffee chat, presentation and newsletter is the need for Age Verification on most if not all slaughter cattle. We have all heard the reasons: Consumer confidence, access to the US via boxed beef and more importantly access to the lucrative Japanese market. That lucrative market needs a lot of cattle identified even though it isn't a large tonnage of meat. The products shipped to Japan are often pieces of the carcass we don't tend to utilize here. So in a container of 800 lbs of meat it would not involve 800 lbs from one carcass but perhaps 800 tongues. Thus it would need 800 head age verified not just one carcass.

    However those things often seem far away from the cow calf producer, and often get forgotten in the daily push of feeding and calving cows. The trouble is that same cow calf producer is the only one who can actually make age verification happen or work.

    It starts by simply knowing when your cows calve. If you don't know the individual dates just knowing the calving season will do. Then you match that date to the tag number on the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag that you put in the calves ear for National ID. Remember that any calf leaving the farm of origin after Sept.06 must have a RFID tag. So unless you are selling your calves by or in August, you will need to use the RFID tags not the old bar codes. Once you have those 2 pieces of information you simply need to get them into the Canadian Cattlemen Identification Agency (CCIA) data base. This can be done directly through their Web Site www.clia.livestockid.ca or in Ontario via BIO. (The CCIA data base will only accept information electronically) If you have bought your tags from BIO or are a member they will input your data and upload it to CCIA. If not they will record/upload data for 50 cents/tag fee.

    For now the most important thing is to record the tag sequence numbers in your bag of tags. (some come with peel off stickers to save you rewriting the numbers) Then record the calving season at least, or the calving dates at best, and then get them into the data base.

    Then when you are selling your calves make sure it gets publicised that these calves are age verified. We saw some interest last fall by buyers in knowing the age verification data. I expect we will see a lot more interest this year as the calves are marketed. Interest may not always equal set premiums but it may make the difference on one more bidder or one more bid on your calves come market time. So get it done so you can say "been there, got it done" when the Hot Topic of tags/age verification comes up at the meeting!

    Occupational Health and Safety On Farms

    Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) came into force in October 1979. The main principle of the OHSA is that workers, supervisors and employers share the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. The OHSA sets out the rights and duties of all workplace parties and it gives Ministry of Labour inspectors the authority to inspect the workplace to ensure compliance with the OHSA, and to investigate complaints, critical injuries and fatalities.

    Until now, farming operations have been exempt from the OHSA. Since early 2004, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) have been working with the agricultural industry, through the Labour Issues Co-ordinating Committee (LICC), a coalition of about 20 agricultural commodity and farm organizations, to develop the appropriate application of the OHSA to farming operations.

    In June 2005, the government made a new regulation that will extend the OHSA to farming operations with paid workers. It will come into effect on June 30, 2006. This means that the rights and duties for workers and employers outlined in the OHSA will apply; inspection and enforcement will apply; and both workers and employers will participate in workplace health and safety matters. Farming operations without paid workers will continue to be exempt from the OHSA.

    OMAFRA and MOL are continuing to work with the Farm Safety Association and the agricultural industry to develop best practices to address specific hazards.

    Employers

    Under the OHSA, the duties of employers include providing information, instruction and supervision to workers; advising workers about hazards in the workplace; and notifying the MOL of workplace fatalities and critical injuries. Employers with six or more regularly employed workers also have to develop an occupational health and safety policy and program.

    Workers

    Farm workers will have the right to participate in decisions about health and safety at the workplace, to know about workplace hazards, and to refuse unsafe work.

    Participation of Employers and Workers in Health and Safety Matters

    A Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) will be required on all mushroom, greenhouse, dairy, hog, cattle, and poultry farms that have 20 or more regularly employed workers. The JHSC must include at least one employer/management representative, and one worker representative who is selected by the workers. The JHSC's role is to respond to issues related to health and safety in the workplace, to do regular inspections of the workplace for health and safety hazards, and to be involved in investigations of serious injuries and work refusal situations.

    If the operation has 50 or more regularly employed workers, the JHSC must have at least four members (with at least half of the members being chosen by workers). At least two of the committee members (one management and one worker member) must be certified. Certification will require specific health and safety training. Certified members have the right to jointly stop work in dangerous circumstances.

    For all farms with six to 19 regularly employed workers, a Worker Health and Safety Representative, selected by the workers, will be required. The worker health and safety representative's role is to work with the employer to respond to issues related to health and safety in the workplace, to do regular inspections of the workplace for health and safety hazards, and to be involved in investigations and work refusal situations. A worker health and safety representative will also be required on all farms with 20 or more workers, where a JHSC is not required.

    Transition Period

    The OHSA will apply to farming operations as of June 30, 2006. This gives farming operations a transition period to develop and implement their health and safety policy and program, and to either select a Worker Health and Safety Representative or establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee. The Farm Safety Association has education and prevention resources and tools to help agricultural employers and workers address health and safety issues in the workplace.

    Public Information Sessions: Occupational Health and Safety Act and Farming Operations

    The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will be hosting public information sessions for employers and employees regarding the Occupational Health and Safety Act and farming operations. The Eastern sessions will be taking place on the following dates and locations:

    Brighton, Masonic Lodge Mon. February 27, 2006 1:00 - 3:30 pm

    Kemptville, Kemptville College Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 9:30 am - 12 noon

    Alfred (French language session)

    Alfred College Wed. March 1, 2006 9:30 am - 12 noon

    For more information, or to register for one of the sessions, please call the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

    OHSA information is now posted on the OMAFRA web site in the Farm Labour section:

    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/farmlabour.html

    There are two items:

    Info Sheet: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/facts/ohsa.htm

    Q&As : http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/facts/q&aohsa.htm

    Information is also available on the Ontario Farm Safety Association web site at http://www.farmsafety.ca/ohsa.shtml

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