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Ottawa investing in African swine fever prevention

Ottawa investing in African swine fever prevention

The federal government will spend up to $45.3 million to keep the disease out of Canada’s pork sector

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The federal government is investing millions of dollars to keep a swine disease out of Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced up to $45.3 million in funding for African swine fever (ASF) prevention and preparedness.

“African swine fever presents a significant risk to the entire industry and our country’s agriculture sector as a whole,” Bibeau said during a press conference on Aug. 26. “This deadly and highly contagious disease has devastated pork farming regions in all parts of the world.”

For context, in May 2019, Vietnam announced it had culled 1.7 million, or 5 per cent of the country’s herd because of ASF.

The 2021 Census of Agriculture counted 14.6 million hogs in Canada.

If Canada had to cull 5 per cent of its herd, that would equal 730,000 pigs, or about eight times the number of pigs B.C. had in 2021 (88,709).

Canada’s $45.3 million in funding will be split for different uses.

  • Up to $23.4 million will help support the pork industry’s prevention and mitigation efforts. This includes biosecurity assessments, retrofitting existing abattoirs and ASF research.
  • Up to $19.8 million is for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s prevention and preparedness efforts. The funding will help enhance lab capacity, establish zoning arrangements with trading partners and assist in international efforts to develop a vaccine.
  • And up to $2.1 million will help the Canada Border Service Agency enhance its border control activities.

These investments demonstrate how serious ASF can be.

Keeping the disease out of Canada is crucial for pork producers, said Rick Bergman, chair of the Canadian Pork Council.

“Tragically, we know from other jurisdictions that one single case of ASF can shut down the export market for the entire Canadian sector,” he said during the Aug. 26 press conference. “While ASF is not a food safety issue, it is capable of decimating herds and causing both economic and mental stress for producers.”

These investments build on prior ASF commitments from the federal government.

Ottawa previously announced investments of $4.6 million in 2021 and $3 million in 2022 for similar work.

Canada also established ASF zoning agreements with the U.S., EU and Singapore. These agreements would allow some continuity of trade from unaffected regions in the event of an outbreak.

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