Biosecurity on the farm is our best line of defense against African swine fever (ASF), said Rick Bergmann, president of the board for the Canadian Pork Council, at the 2019 African Swine Fever Forum in Ottawa, Canada.
The event, led by Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for Canada, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, and U.S. CVO Dr. Jack Shere, addressed the risk of this devastating disease that is currently impacting pigs in Europe and Asia. North America is free of ASF and the industry is working intensively to protect against an outbreak of this disease that affects both domestic and wild pigs.
“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. Informed discussions around enhanced biosecurity, trade impacts and communications will strengthen our countries’ actions and the effectiveness of our collaborations,” Komal said.
Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, welcomed over 150 delegates from 15 countries to discuss the devastating disease disrupting the pork market. She was joined by Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture.
Bergmann applauded the organizers of the forum for bringing together a great group of leaders from numerous countries to discuss ASF.
“We have to protect our sector the best we can,” Bergmann said. “We need all hands on deck to ensure we avoid catastrophic loss at the farm level.”
In addition to biosecurity, Bergmann emphasized the importance of business continuity in the event of an ASF outbreak in the Americas.
“Trust and transparency is critical with our trading partners,” he said. “It’s the foundation of a successful zoning and compartmentalization plan.”
Dr. Egan Brockhoff, veterinary counselor for the Canadian Pork Council, said compartmentalization allows the industry to keep more animals moving in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak.
“It was neat to see the level of commitment and agreement among the leaders at the forum,” Brockhoff said. “The event closed with the three CVOs from Canada, U.S. and Mexico charging the attendees with take-home messages and action items to help keep this virus out of North America.”
From enhancing biosecurity to developing preparedness plans to strategizing risk communication, the forum offered crucial information and resources for attendees.
In light of the pace at which ASF is spreading through parts of Asia and Europe, the Government of Canada said they will continue to take action to protect its pigs and the economy by 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 and engaging international partners on approaches to zoning, so that trade disruptions can be minimized should ASF enter Canada.