Livestock transporters can now face fines of up to 15 thousand dollars for violating the Health of Animals Act.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's penalties increased by more than two-fold this week.

"The real reason for the changes is to encourage greater compliance among regulated parties. These fines were set over ten years ago and were in need of adjustment to just simply reflect inflation as well," says Scott Rattray, acting director of enforcement and investigation with the CFIA.

"Under the regulations, you have three different categories: minor violations, serious violations and very serious violations," he explains. Fines for minor violations have been increased from $500 to $1300. Serious violations will now cost the transporter $6000, up from $2000. The penalty for very serious violations has been increased from $4000 to $10000.

The CFIA also retains the ability to increase fines by up to 50 percent for repeat offenders, meaning a repeat offender could face a fine as high as $15000 for a very serious violation.

Rattray notes violations are few and far between. "I would characterize compliance rates as very high. These fines are being raised to deal with the minority," he says.

Between April of 2009 and March of 2010, the CFIA issued 209 fines, totalling approximately 415 thousand dollars.

Livestock groups including the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada and Turkey Farmers of Canada say they support the increased penalties.

~ Friday, October 29, 2010 ~