The House of Commons agriculture committee held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreak in southeast Manitoba.
There have been at least 20 confirmed on-farm cases since May 2.
To put that number in perspective, Manitoba previously only had 10 PEDv-positive barns dating back to 2014 when the virus devastated the U.S. hog herd and infected dozens of barns in Ontario.
Representatives from the Manitoba Pork Council, as well as Maple Leaf Foods, Hylife and Steve’s Livestock Transport, briefed the ag committee, highlighting their concerns with a change in the federal government’s truck washing policy just over a year ago.
As Rick Bergmann, chair of the Canadian Pork Council and southeast Manitoba hog producer, explains in the interview below, during the initial PEDv outbreak in the U.S., the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an emergency order allowing trucks to return to Canada from the U.S. without being washed, rather than having them visit American wash facilities alongside trucks known to be contaminated with PEDv. That emergency order was not renewed on May 1, 2016, forcing truck drivers to wash before returning to Canada.
There’s no definitive evidence linking the change in truck wash protocol and the current outbreak, but there are serious concerns that it has raised the risk of spreading the virus.
“When we had that policy in place, we had no (major) issues. Now that the policy isn’t in place, and we do have issues,” he notes.
Bergmann was on RealAg Radio on Monday to discuss highlights from the World Pork Expo held in Des Moines last week (with NAFTA negotiations looming), as well the PEDv outbreak in Manitoba: