The results are in, and hundreds of Ontario pork producers are better able to control and reduce the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus thanks to the PED Biosecurity Special Intake Funding Assistance Program that wrapped up in late 2014.
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) paid out over 900 claims worth more than $7.4 million for projects that included cleaning and disinfecting equipment and facilities (including equipment for managing deadstock), and building or improving Danish entry systems which have distinctly ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ sides to maintain sanitary conditions inside the barn.
The special program was funded by the governments of Canada and Ontario under Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. It was offered in addition to the existing GF2 funding assistance program.
“The pork industry is a key driver of jobs and economic growth in this country. The Government of Canada remains committed to strengthening traceability and biosecurity in our pork industry to secure Canada’s reputation for producing safe, high-quality food,” said Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
“The PED Biosecurity Special Intake Funding Assistance Program reduced the risk of disease transmission and delivered positive outcomes for Ontario pork farmers and producers. Biosecurity, animal welfare and food safety and traceability are important priorities for Ontarians as they are for Ontario pork farmers. Efforts made by OSCIA and funding recipients are greatly appreciated,” said Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
“Pork producers told us that the program was of significant benefit, and we’re pleased they responded so positively,” said Alan Kruszel, President of the OSCIA. “I am very proud, as well, of the high caliber of work our staff provided – from program development to processing claims as well as answering questions and addressing concerns.”
Hog producers, truckers, abattoir operators, assembly facility owners and renderers were eligible to apply. A full 93 per cent of the project claims came from producers – 63 per cent of those were finishers and 37 per cent were farrowers. The majority of projects were completed in Huron, Perth, Oxford, Lambton and Middlesex counties. Almost half of the participants used the available funding to make two or more improvements to their operations. All biosecurity work was completed between April 2013 and the end of October 2014.
As of March 31, there had only been 14 confirmed cases of the PED virus since the summer, according to Dr. Paul Innes, Manager, Veterinary Science and Policy, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This is in spite of the cold weather that provides ideal conditions for the virus to spread.
“This is a good indication that the industry as a whole has been successful in implementing effective tools for managing PED and other serious diseases,” Innes said. “We are very encouraged by the willingness of producers and others to put in the extra time, money and effort needed to better protect the health of their herds, their incomes and the Ontario pork industry as a whole.”
PED is not a risk to human health or food safety. It is, however, a serious disease in swine production, which can cause 100 per cent mortality in piglets.