An Alberta man who has spent his entire life in the cattle industry and the lives of his neighbours have been turned upside down since they were notified last month a cow from his herd tested positive for bovine tuberculosis
The Alberta Beef Producers says 30 farms are under quarantine after a single cow tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.
That cow came from the farm of Brad Osadczuk’s near Jenner, northeast of Brooks.
Osadczuk says he’s been told all 385 cows and calves, 51 bulls, and every other animal on his farm will have to be put down. Two of his neighbours have been told their herds, totalling 500 animals, will also have to be euthanized.
The initial infected cow, sold to the U.S., tested positive in September. Although there are currently no known cases of bovine TB in the province, all cattle that may have come in contact with the initial herd will have to be tested now. The CFIA now has to investigate the quarantined herds back five years for possible contact.
In the meantime, Osadczuk says he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and can’t make payments so he might have to find a job off the farm.
Bob Lowe, chair of Alberta Beef Producers says this is a huge stress for producers. “The big problem is these people are under quarantine but they can’t move their calves. The extra feed is not compensated, and they’ve got no money to buy feed.”
READ MORE: What is bovine tuberculosis?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ordered the quarantine. Osadczuk has been told he will get some compensation for his herd but says he has no idea when the money will come.“They are destroying everything that makes us money and it’s going to take years to build that back up,” he said. “They’ve put a halt on any cattle movement, sales or anything – on or off our ranch.
“We can’t fulfill anything with the banks,” Osadczuk added. “This is the time of year where we sell calves and pay the bank and we aren’t able to do any of that.”
Some of the calves have already been shipped out to be destroyed and Osadczuk said the CFIA hasn’t told him when the rest will be taken or when the quarantine will be lifted.
“We owe thousands of dollars and we are paying interest every day on these operating loans and we can’t sell, and I can’t even get the CFIA to return my calls these days,” he said. “One guy does, that’s about it.
“There is no compensation for a loss of business – I can’t live on love until my cows are replaced,” Osadczuk said. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll have to go out and get a job off the ranch.”
Osadczuk said he is very concerned for his neighbours and their cattle, adding they are not properly equipped to keep the herds into the winter months due to a shortage of water supply and no stockpile of feed available.
“We haven’t gotten any results back on the index herd, just the one confirmed case that came out of the (United) States, and without anymore information from the CFIA or anybody, they’ve decided that one other neighbour’s herd will be destroyed – actually two other neighbours’ herds destroyed.”
Osadczuk says he doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy or a handout. Instead, he says he and his neighbours simply need answers from the CFIA so they can start to look ahead and rebuild their operations.
“You’re left with empty fields and no idea when you’ll ever be allowed to put a cow back on your place.”
Global News has reached out to the CFIA for comment but has not yet heard back.