Brad Osadczuk has been ranching his whole life so he was shocked when got a call saying a cow he shipped to the States tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis.
“My initial reaction was that we’re in a lot of trouble,” he said.
Canada is considered to be a Bovine TB free zone however cases do occasionally pop up and must be reported.
Because this case originated from Osadczuk’s cattle in Jenner, his whole herd has to be destroyed.
Osadczuk says it’s devastating.
“It takes a lifetime to build a ranch herd and get your breeding program and cattle the way you want them and in one instance it’s gone.”
At this point no one knows how the cow contracted TB but Osadczuk says he suspects it came from elk in the area.
Two years ago he raised concerns with the government about the growing elk population near Suffield and how they could spread disease, but he says little has been done and the population is now estimated to be between 7,000-8,000 elk.
“Ironically enough I was the guy that was telling the environment minister at the time, and I’m that guy that got quarantined and has the index herd,” he says.
But it’s not just Osadczuk’s cattle being affected. Now there are at least 30 ranches in the area under quarantine as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) investigates .
Osadczuk says the timing couldn’t be worse.
“Once a year we sell our marketable cattle, and we have a paycheck once a year, that’s how it works, we work all year and get paid once a year – that time is now.”
Osadczuk says eventually he’ll receive some compensation from CFIA for having his heard destroyed but he worries about his neighbors. The Alberta Beef Producers have appealed to the government for help.
In a statement emailed to CHAT News, Agriculture Minister, Oneil Carlier says “We understand the urgency of the situation and we continue working with the federal government regarding what programs may be available.”
Currently there is no time frame for how long the quarantine could last. Despite repeated requests to the CFIA for answers, no one has been made available to comment.
Osadczuk says he fears the quarantine could be in effect for months and most ranchers don’t have the feed or space to keep the cattle over the winter.
“We just feel things are moving so slowly,” he says. “There’s people’s livelihoods, health and families that are hanging in the balance and we just don’t have enough direction from the CFIA.”
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