Canada’s embattled pork industry received a significant boost on Thurdsay morning with the announcement of another $3.7 million from the federal government to strengthen its national swine traceability system, boosting total funding to $7 million for the program. The announcement came from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz at the Conestoga Meat Packers facility in Breslau.
“There is no doubt that a strong traceability system benefits Canadian producers, the value chain and consumers alike,” Ritz said to a gathering of officials and media inside the main stairwell of the packing facility. Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht and plant manager Arnold Drung were also on hand for the announcement.
The Canadian Pork Traceability system, PigTrace Canada, is designed to track the movement of hogs across the country. Phase 1 is focused on the creation of a tag distribution system for the hogs – which has already seen a $3.3 million input from the government last year – and phase 2 will focus on the creation of a national centralized database that will be located in Quebec.
With recent swine flu outbreaks in China in South Korea that have led to a 30 per cent cull rate of herds in those country’s, the need for a centralized tracking system in Canada is clear, and Ritz says that this program will go a long way to ensuring that Ontario’s pork industry can compete on an international scale and give hog farmers the competitive edge they need to access markets around the world.
During a potential animal disease outbreak, a national database would allow the Canadian Pork Council to quickly identify what farm the hog came from and what other animals may have come in contact with it, in an effort to limit the spread of the disease and the economic and trade impacts of such an emergency.
“Today’s investment in hog traceability will pay dividends to the entire value chain here in Ontario and across Canada for generations to come,” said Albrecht.