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CLIA, Tracking and Traceability

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the Canadian Livestock Identification Agency (CLIA)?
    The Canadian Livestock Agency is an industry-led, government-supported initiative, established to develop and implement tracking and traceability for livestock and poultry as part of a larger traceability system throughout the agri-food chain.

  2. Why is a national animal identification system needed?
    In the wake of animal-borne diseases like avian influenza (bird flu) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) recently discovered in Canada, people became aware that a national animal identification system was needed to help in crisis management, promote consumer confidence and address international standards.
       Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) identifies the objective of achieving 80% traceability of Canadian food by 2008.

  3. What are tracking and traceability?
    Tracking is the ability to follow an animal or a group of animals, or an input like feed or medicine, from its point of origin in the supply chain to its present location or point of disposal.
       Tracing is the capacity to follow it back to its point of origin and link it to contacts or inputs (contaminants or infectious agents) that may have affected its quality or fitnessd for consumption. Both activities require recording and storage of data on movements through the supply chain.

  4. Will CLIA be responsible for tracking all species? What species are covered?
    At first the program will be voluntary. Only those commodities whose producers agree to join the program will be part of the system. But CLIA’s goal is to eventually move to a national system that covers every species of poultry and livestock.

  5. What forms of identification will be used?
    At present, the most commonly adopted form of identification for individual animals is by tagging them with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The tags are relatively cheap, and have the advantage over other systems that they can be scanned automatically at a distance and beyond the line of sight. This is very advantageous where people are handling numbers of large animals. Handlers do not have to stop an animal, clean manure off the ear tag, or turn the animal to scan the tag.
       But some species have special requirements, so other technologies are available and may be in use.
       The members’ page provides links to association websites where more information may be found.

  6. What are the advantages for producer organizations in joining the CLIA?
    There are several benefits a producer organization will enjoy by becoming a member of the CLIA, in addition to creating a safe, reliable system that consumers can have confidence in and that will give officials resources that they need to properly address crises. The CLIA will provide an avenue for commodity groups working together to combine and use resources for a stronger voice.
       Participation in a national program will offer a voice in governance and direction in areas of common concern, policy direction and lobbying.

  7. Who is implementing the CLIA program? What government bodies will have oversight of this plan?
    The implementation of the CLIA/CATTS project will continue to be an industry initiative with support from the federal government. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which now has a legislated mandate to oversee the safety and quality of food in Canada will continue to play an oversight role.

  8. Is Canada the only country developing a national tracking and tracing system?
    No. More than 15 countries have already put some sort of tracking and tracing system in place. They include many of Canada’s trading partners and competitors, such as the USA, the United Kingdom and the EU, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina.

  9. Where can I learn more about livestock identification?
    For more information on livestock identification, you can visit the following websites: or you may contact us directly at the address at left.

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