Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food welcomed over 150 delegates from 15 countries today to Ottawa, Ontario for an international forum on African swine fever. Recognizing ASF cannot be addressed in isolation, the Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau says the Government of Canada remains steadfast in collaboration with international representatives, industry and the provinces to prevent and mitigate the risk of this animal disease.
“I am committed to continuing Canada’s efforts to prevent the introduction of African swine fever into the country," says Marie-Claude Bibeau. “By working collaboratively, producers, the Canadian public at large and the international community can help to stop the spread of this deadly disease affecting swine populations. We are holding this forum to address a common threat.”
Bibeau provided opening remarks for the forum and was joined by Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Leaders and key decision makers from Canadian and international governments, as well as domestic and international industry stakeholders, aim to develop a framework based on a foundation of science in four areas:
- Preparedness planning
- Enhanced biosecurity
- Ensure business continuity
- Coordinated risk communications
The Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Jaspinder Komal, and the CVO for the United States, Jack Shere, are leading the two-day forum to address the risk of ASF that is currently impacting pigs in Europe and Asia.
“The Forum is an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences to better prevent the entry of ASF in the Americas and to ensure a high state of readiness to swiftly control and eradicate the disease should it enter the region,” Komal says. “Informed discussions around enhanced biosecurity, trade impacts and communications will strengthen our countries’ actions and the effectiveness of our collaborations.”
The forum represents another piece in Canada's proactive and collaborative approach to protecting Canada's fourth largest agricultural sector, which contributes approximately $24 billion to the Canadian economy annually.
In light of the pace at which ASF is spreading through parts of Asia and Europe, the Government of Canada continues taking action to protect its pigs and the economy, including but not limited to:
- Providing new funding of up to $31 million to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports.
- Implementing additional import control measures to prevent infected plant-based feed ingredients from ASF-affected countries from entering Canada.
- Engaging international partners on approaches to zoning, so that trade disruptions can be minimized, should ASF enter Canada.
ASF is a serious viral disease that can cause fever, internal bleeding and high death rates in pigs. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through both direct and indirect contact with infected pigs or pork products. ASF only affects members of the pig family (that is humans cannot contract the disease).