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Ontario Liberals Provide $2M to Help Combat PED

Kathleen Wynne Comes Out in Support of Ontario’s Pork Industry

By Amanda Brodhagen, 

Premier Kathleen Wynne, who also doubles as the province’s minister of agriculture and food, said Tuesday that Ontario is offering $2 million to help Ontario Pork stop the pig-killing virus, also known as PED, from spreading to more Ontario hog farms.

 Porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, is a virus that only affects swine, and does not pose a risk to human health or food safety. The virus is often deadly for young piglets, while older pigs typically recover from the illness.

The announcement was made Tuesday during a telephone town hall meeting organized by Ontario Pork.  The town hall meeting’s aim was to provide updates to pork producers on the PED outbreak in the province. Wynne joined the call as a special guest. “My heart goes out to the producers who’ve been affected by PED,” she said. “I understand the seriousness of the virus. I understand its economic impact.”

Wynne says that as the Minister of Agriculture she is “very concerned” about PED. She also commended Ontario Pork for its proactive efforts to deal with the virus. “The government is here to help producers get through this challenge,” Wynne explains.

Amy Cronin, Huron County area pig farmer, and chair of Ontario Pork, said almost 1,200 people were participating in the town hall call, with the majority of them being pork producers. Media, provincial officials, and U.S. representatives were also in attendance. This will mark the fourth town hall-style meeting that Ontario Pork has organized within the last six-months discussing PED.

The $2 million dollars in funds is earmarked to enhance biosecurity measures, and strengthen critical points across the province which includes assembly yards and truck washing stations. Biosecurity remains the best defence to stop the virus from spreading. PED thrives in the winter months.

On Thursday, Wynne said she will be on a call with federal and provincial counterparts to compare notes on ways that each province plans to deal with PED.  The conversation will undoubtedly include a national approach to manage the highly contagious virus.

In addition to the Ontario Government’s pledge, Wynne announced that the province in partnership with the federal government have created a special PED biosecurity program.  The program will exist under the Growing Forward 2 Policy Framework which will help the swine industry invest in additional biosecurity measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of PED.

The news was welcomed by the industry. Cronin calls the support “fantastic news,” noting that the monetary support will help with Ontario Pork’s biosecurity initiatives that they’ve already started. Greg Douglas, Ontario’s chief veterinarian thanked the Premier for her leadership and support.

Since last May U.S. producers have been grappling with the virus which has infected more than 2,000 farms, spanning 22 states. Officials believe the virus has killed between one to four million pigs in the U.S. alone.

Canada had its first confirmed case of the disease last week, a Middlesex County farm in Southwestern Ontario.  Ontario officials announced a second confirmed case in the Chatham-Kent region, and said that there was another suspected farm in the same area under investigation.

Ontario Pork estimates that PED could cost the country’s pork industry an estimated $45 million in one year, if it spreads.




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