Rules now on books to enforce hog traceability for July 1

Hog farmers and handlers in Canada now officially have until July 1 to get their operations Pigtrace-compatible.

Amendments to the federal Health of Animals Regulations were published Wednesday in the Canada Gazette to make traceability of farmed pigs mandatory effective July 1 this year. The same rules will also apply to farmed wild boars starting July 1, 2015.

The amendments will require farmers and other “industry custodians” to keep records and report all movements of pigs, from birth or import to slaughter or export, and also lay out the rules on how pigs and wild boars are to be identified.

The new rules, the federal government said Wednesday, will apply to “all domestic pigs that are farmed for food production, including those that die on farm and cannot enter the food chain.”

The amendments allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to make a deal with a “third-party administrator” — in this case, the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) — to set up and maintain a comprehensive central database of “up-to-date information as to the identification, movement and location of all pigs in Canada.” The rules will require “custodians” of pigs to provide information directly to the CPC.

When pigs are transported from one site to another, such as for sale, shows, breeding or slaughter, both the sender and the recipient of the pigs will be required to report the movement of the pigs, within seven days, to the administrator.

Pigs shipped directly for slaughter, however, will need to be identified with an approved tag or slap tattoo indicating a site number, instead of a number unique to the pig.

A mandatory traceability system, such as those already in place in Canada for cattle, bison and sheep, is expected to help cut the response and investigation time in an animal disease outbreak, from days down to “a matter of minutes,” the CPC said Wednesday.

The council said its traceability program, Pigtrace Canada, will “continue to work with the pork industry and with the federal and provincial governments to become compliant” for the July 1 deadline. [Related story]

The amendments will also apply “national consistency” in the pig sector, the council said, by “building on what is already in place in some provinces,” such as the swine traceability system in Alberta.

A solid traceability system, the CPC said, “requires significant investment in technology and time from all industry stakeholders, and a significant investment in administration to ensure successful co-ordination of the system, effective communications, customer service for industry stakeholders and most importantly, an efficient traceout of animals in the event of an animal disease.”

Pigtrace, the council said, “is confident that sufficient time has been allowed to complete and deliver enhanced activities for producers and will have the program fully implemented in advance of the implementation date.”

The federal government estimates compliance costs for mandatory hog traceability will run at about $1.27 million per year across the industry, with administrative costs estimated at about $270,000 a year.

Estimates from outbreak simulations suggest the net economic impact of a major animal disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth disease, in Canada would be at least $15.7 billion, the government said Wednesday.

If a traceability system such as the planned Pigtrace system is in place at the time of the outbreak, the government said, “these costs will be reduced by $6.1 billion or more.” — Network

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