While the threat of African swine fever is real, Canadian Pork Council 2nd Vice-Chair and Québec pork producer René Roy says the strong, well-established animal health system in Canada and the nation's pork producers have a critical role in keeping the disease at bay. Roy represented the industry’s 7,000 producers Thursday in front of Canada's Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Roy highlighted the fact that ASF is not a food safety issue but rather a virus that affects pigs. Canada’s pork sector exports 70% of its production. In response to an ASF outbreak those export markets would close, and a growing, globally competitive, $24 billion sector would be destroyed.
“Pork producers have invested heavily in traceability, biosecurity, extension and research” says Roy. “We are very thankful for the great collaboration between government and industry stakeholders, here, and abroad, to prevent the virus from reaching our herds, and to prepare for that eventuality.”
In addition to multiple measures being put in place to prevent and prepare for an ASF outbreak in Canada, the pork sector believes there are four key priorities to address:
- Wild pigs, an invasive species, must be eradicated.
- Biosecurity measures - both on the farm and at the border - must be enhanced to prevent disease entry.
- Canda's traceability, biosecurity and surveillance systems must be strengthened to ensure they support rapid zoning and the reopening of export markets.
- Communication with a wide range of differing stakeholders, both before and during an outbreak, must be addressed.
Rick Bergman, CPC Chair notes the need for increased resources: “To date, our response has been to simply roll up our sleeves and work a little harder. Very few new resources, apart from the detector dogs, have been brought to the battle. While this has yielded good results over the short-term, it is not sustainable.”
Over the next few weeks, the Canadian Pork Council is asking that funding be put in place under the Canadian Agricultural Partnerships Program to address the immediate priorities. In addition, the council asks Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau to proceed with the establishment of the national Pork Promotion and Research Agency.
In 2016, the Farm Products Council of Canada completed its formal review of the Canadian Pork Council’s proposal for a promotion and research agency. It was the Farm Products Council’s conclusion that an agency should be established. The CPC says unfortunately, the Government of Canada continues to deny the pork sector access to this source of private sector funding.
“Armed with additional resources we will protect the sector, ensure it continues to provide Canadians with a secure supply of nutritious, high-quality pork and that it remains an important contributor to the Canadian economy” says Roy.
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