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Beef InfoXchange launch delayed until March

Larry Thomas

Larry Thomas is Beef InfoXchange national co-ordinator.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Beef InfoXchange system that was expected to be launched last fall will likely not be available to producers until March.
“It’s not really launched yet, we’ve redone some developments on the data upload grid,” explained Larry Thomas, Beef InfoXchange national co-ordinator, who lives in Millarville.
Thomas gave the lowdown on the Beef InfoXchange to about 225 people who had gathered for the annual Tiffin Conference at the Lethbridge College on Jan. 20.
About 135 who took in the conference were primary producers.
Next step in setting up the voluntary national beef information exchange system is a phased-in launch involving about 40 ranchers from B.C. to Ontario who have volunteered to participate.
“We’re locked in and loaded for the cow-calf side of this,” Thomas said. “But we’ll be launching in phases. We’ve got about 40 ranchers set for a soft launch. If all goes well with this, then we’d have a full roll-out later this winter.”
Thomas said he hesitates to pin the date down because of unexpected system glitches they’ve already had to face.
“But the system could be ready by sometime in March,” he said.
In spite of delays Thomas is encouraged with the progress that has been made to date.
“We know now this system will probably work,” Thomas said.
The idea for the Beef InfoXchange System was conceived two years ago as something that could take advantage of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency or Radio Frequency ID tags all producers are required to use.
“We’ve got the mandated Radio Frequency ID tag,” Thomas said. “The idea was… now how can we add value to that tag? With the Beef InfoXchange we have a tool to provide us with intelligence for breeders, feeders, marketers.”
The program is overseen by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“This is something we were asked by producers to build,” Thomas explained. “So we got together a group of ranchers, feed lot operators, a couple of vets . . . they’re the ones who built this.”
Some producers initially were concerned about having their stock data wide open for anyone to access. But Thomas, in speaking to groups across the prairies over several months, has been able to allay that fear.
Data in the system will not be openly accessible.
When a Beef InfoXchange member, say a feedlot or buyer, is on the lookout for a certain breed of cattle within a specific age and weight range, they must submit their request to the Beef InfoXchange program administrator, who then passes on contact information to producers who have the kind of stock being sought.
Cow-calf producers then decide whether they want to connect with whoever is making the inquiry.
Operations that only have dial-up connection to the Internet will be able to access and use Beef InfoXchange.
The Beef InfoXchange is not a traceability initiative.
Registration is voluntary, and at this time without cost. Funding to launch the program has been provided by the federal government.
“It’s supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,” Thomas said.
Beef InfoXchange is also an integral part of the Canadian Beef Advantage program with founding members the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council.
Further information on the Beef InfoXchange is available at bixs.cattle.ca.

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