by SUSAN MANN
Ontario’s pork producer commodity organization agrees with hog farmers in other provinces who are calling on the federal government to help pay for specific livestock truck washing facilities across Canada.
“From Ontario’s point of view, we think that would be a really good initiative on behalf of the federal government because it would be something that would help not only with porcine epidemic diarrhea but with swine health in general now and into the future,” says Amy Cronin, Ontario Pork chair.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is caused by a coronavirus that leads to vomiting and diarrhea in pigs along with high death losses of almost 100 per cent in nursing piglets. Older pigs get widespread diarrhea but can recover. Since January, Ontario has had 54 confirmed cases on farms, mainly in the southwestern part of the province, although there has also been one case in the east on a farm in Leeds-Grenville. There has also been one confirmed case each in Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
PED is not a human health or food safety risk. Is also doesn’t affect other animals besides pigs. Pork is still a safe choice for consumers to eat.
In an April 17 update, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food says PED is considered an emerging significant disease in Ontario and the province’s Animal Health Act requires veterinarians to report suspected cases to the ministry.
The Canadian Pork Council hasn’t made a specific request to the federal government for help to pay for specific truck washing facilities across Canada as a way to help farmers deal with the PED virus. This is just what “provinces are saying we’d like to see,” Cronin says.
Gary Stordy, Council spokesperson, says there have been discussions between the pork industry and the federal and provincial governments on a number of different aspects to PED for the past several months. “Truck washing has been identified as an area where there could be room for improvement.”
Patrick Girard, spokesman for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says by email the department is in ongoing contact with the Council and the Canadian Swine Health Board to identify opportunities to enhance Canada’s approach to PED.
The agriculture department has been investing in biosecurity measures and collaborating with provinces and the pork sector for some time “to lay the groundwork that has helped producers prepare for these kinds of risks,” he says.
The Council has never raised the idea of implementing specific washing facilities but the notion has been discussed in meetings and general discussions with industry stakeholders and governments as an area “where there are some gaps,” Stordy notes. “It’s clear there is a need for increased truck washing capacity; how that gets done still needs to be discussed.”
The number of truck washing facilities needed across Canada, where they should be located and the amount of money required to pay for them hasn’t been spelled out, Stordy says, noting ‘whether this is completely a government initiative (both federal or provincial), whether this is a commercial opportunity, or a public/private partnership; that level of detail hasn’t been discussed.”
Cronin says “these are just conceptual ideas at this point. It’s something we definitely want to work on and we think that they (the federal government) can support us on.” BF