Canadian Pork Council’s 2nd vice-chair René Roy, a pork producer from Québec, urged the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to fund additional measures to protect Canada from the threat of African swine fever (ASF).
Roy represented the industry’s 7,000 producers on Thursday and shared how ASF could impact the Canadian economy. He highlighted that ASF is not a food safety issue. This deadly virus that only affects pigs could devastate Canada’s export market. Canada’s pork sector exports 70% of its production, relying heavily on exports.
If an ASF outbreak were to occur, those export markets would close, the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) shared in a release.
Roy acknowledged the critical role producers have in keeping the disease at bay. “Pork producers have invested heavily in traceability, biosecurity, extension and research,” he said. “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:
1. Wild pigs, an invasive species, must be eradicated.
2. Biosecurity measures - both on the farm and at the border - must be enhanced to prevent disease entry.
3. Our traceability, biosecurity and surveillance systems must be strengthened to ensure they support rapid zoning and the reopening of our export markets.
4. Communication with a wide range of differing stakeholders, both before and during an outbreak, must be addressed.
“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,” said Rick Bergman, CPC chairman.
Over the next few weeks, the CPC is requesting funding be put in place under the Canadian Agricultural Partnerships Program to address immediate priorities. In addition, Minister Bibeau 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 CPC’s proposal for a promotion and research agency and concluded that an agency should be established. However, the Government of Canada continues to deny the pork sector access to this badly needed source of private sector funding, CPC said.
For more on ASF, visit porkbusiness.com/ASF.