The federal government has committed up to $45.3 million in further efforts to prevent African swine fever (ASF) from entering Canada and to prepare for a potential outbreak that would result in the immediate closure of Canada’s border to pork and hog exports.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the funding in Quebec City on Friday.
Up to $23.4 million will go to support the pork industries efforts to mitigate the disease that is currently spreading throughout countries in Europe and Asia, and was discovered in the Dominican Republic last year. These funds will go toward biosecurity assessments, wild pig management, retrofitting of existing abattoirs, and ASF-related research projects. Details on how this funding will be administered are still under development.
Another $19.8 million will go toward the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA’s) ASF prevention and preparedness work, including enhancing laboratory capacity, establish zoning arrangements with more trading partners, and contributing to the development of an ASF vaccine.
The CFIA has already confirmed zoning arrangements to facilitate international trade with the United States, European Union, Singapore, and Vietnam. The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has also recognized CFIA’s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, MB as a “Reference Laboratory” to address ASF – one of only seven labs in the world with the designation.
Up to $2.1 million in funding will also be allocated to the Canada Border Services Agency and its efforts to prevent the entry of high-risk pork and pork products by enhancing public awareness, improving commercial targeting, and developing training for border services officers. CBSA officers have been provided with guidance for applying the penalty of $1,300 to travellers who fail to declare pork or pork products — or any other meat — when entering the country.
Canadian Pork Council chair Rick Bergmann discussed ASF preparation/prevention efforts and the federal funding on the August 30th edition of RealAg Radio:
“This announcement is significant and purposeful for Canadian pork producers. We welcome the government’s investment towards keeping ASF out of our country and of our farms. We have seen the negative impact of ASF in other parts of the world which demonstrates the need for this collaboration between government and our sector,” said Rick Bergman, chair of the Canadian Pork Council, who joined Bibeau for the announcement.
Chris White, president and CEO of the Canadian Meat Council, noted more than 70 per cent of Canadian pork is exported, making Canada the third-largest pork exporting country in the world.
“Prevention is key to avoid the entry of ASF, but preparedness will allow the pork industry to reduce the impact of the disease for a quicker recovery. This funding will provide industry and government with further resources to continue the development of the ASF Canadian action plan and be prepared for a potential outbreak,” said White.
The African swine fever Executive Management Board (ASF EMB) has brought together federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) governments and industry representatives to provide guidance and prioritize activities to implement the Pan-Canadian ASF Action Plan.
“We must continue to work as a team – federal, provincial and territorial governments together with industry, to prevent African swine fever from entering the country. Strengthening the measures already in place is essential to protecting the hog sector and the vitality of rural communities,” said Bibeau.
ASF does not pose a health risk to humans, other animals, or the food system, and has not been detected in pigs in Canada.