PigTrace tag price going up

Hog producers will have to pay more for traceability in the near future.

Canada’s PigTrace program will be raising ear tag prices as of Aug. 1.

Prices will go up 20 cents for every small ear tag and 35 cents for every large ear tag, a release from the Manitoba Pork Council said.

The Manitoba Pork Council is urging producers to buy into the program, despite the increased cost. Both the provincial and national pork councils cite PigTrace is Canada’s effort to prepare for African swine fever and limit impact if the deadly disease is found in Canada.

The program will be critical for zoning, both the Manitoba council and Canadian Pork Council say.

Canada has renewed or updated zoning understandings with both the U.S. and European Union in recent months as fear of African swine fever grows.

The virus has yet to spread to North America, although Reuters recently reported outbreaks in China may have claimed up to half that country’s hogs, flying in the face of the much lower official estimates.

“With increased foreign animal disease risk putting traceability at the centre of preparedness and zoning activities, PigTrace is more important than ever,” the Manitoba Pork Council said.

“These price increases are a necessary step towards maintaining the long-term financial sustainability of the program due to increasing operational costs.”

The jump will not apply for any order made and paid for by July 31, the council said.

— Reporting for the Manitoba Co-operator by Alexis Stockford.

The bison herd on Canada's Prairies has made a comeback, at least on Prairie farms, according to Statistics Canada. For a species once nearly wiped out of the wild as the Prairies were settled, numbers of farmed bison have risen substantially in the last five years alone, the agency said. Census numbers of bison in 2006 rose almost 35 per cent to 195,728 across Canada while the number of farms reporting rose by just 11, to 1,898, compared to counts from the 2001 census of agriculture. (However, the number of farms had risen more than sixfold since the 1991 census, the federal agency noted.) "The number of bison continues to increase, responding to (rising) consumer demand both domestically and internationally," StatsCan wrote. Alberta, in both 2001 and 2006, led the country in bison population with almost 50 per cent of the herd, while its count of bison farms dropped to 45.8 per cent of the national total. It reported 97,366 head on 869 farms, up from 79,731 head on 950 farms in 2001. The Peace River region of Alberta and British Columbia is home to 14.4 per cent of the national herd, StatsCan noted. Counts of both bison and farms were up from 2001 levels in most other provinces. Saskatchewan saw its counts rise to 57,395 head on 597 farms, while Manitoba's rose to 19,609 head on 166 farms. There were 145 bison farms east of Manitoba; StatsCan wouldn't release numbers in the three provinces with three farms or fewer, citing confidentiality. The federally- and provincially-inspected bison slaughter in Canada more than doubled between 2001 and 2006, from 11,168 head to 25,613. Exports of bison meat were also more than double their 2001 numbers, at over 2.07 million kg in 2006. Live bison exports also increased to 13,255 head in 2006, as most importing countries by then had re-opened their borders to live animals following the BSE crisis.

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