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Opinion: Impact of hog disease can’t be underestimated

Canada is bracing for impact. The massive blow won’t shake china off the shelves, but rather, will arrive in the tiniest of forms — a virus or bacteria that can replicate itself and hitch a ride on almost anything, killing livestock in its wake.

The nation’s farmers and processors are preparing for a time when African swine fever reaches Canada, a possibility that becomes more likely each day. With attention, effort and funds, it appears the country is well positioned to thwart the worst ravages of the illness.

ASF can kill 50 to 100 percent of pigs in an infected barn, and an outbreak in North America could cause economic losses of US$5-$7 billion annually, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

The disease is estimated to have cost Asia more than $150 billion already, with $130 billion of that in China alone, where the herd was devastated by the illness in 2019.

Canada has experience with industry-changing livestock illness. A relatively small outbreak of BSE caused billions of dollars in damage to the Canadian beef industry, starting in 2003, and some producers say they still haven’t recovered from its effects on markets and on other facets of the beef business.

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