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Hog Traceability Gets Second-Phase Funding

Canada’s national hog traceability system moved into a new phase last week, courtesy of $3.7 million in federal funding.

The money will go toward developing a national centralized database to record the movement of pigs across Canada.

It comes on top of a previous $3.3 million from Ottawa last May to create the first phase of the traceability system: tag identification for hogs.

The traceability money comes from the food-safety initiative of Growing Forward, the national agricultural policy framework.

Together, the $7 million will help develop a system to track swine movements throughout the country.

The Canadian Pork Council is administering the system, named PigTrace Canada.

The system is mostly in place right now, said Jeff Clark, CPC traceability manager. He said the database is pretty much in operation and producers are already requesting ID tags for their animals.

All that’s needed for a fully running system is the adoption of federal regulations to include hogs in the national livestock traceability program currently being developed.

Clark said he couldn’t predict when the regulations under the federal Health of Animals Act will come into effect. He’s hoping it’ll happen by the end of this year.

Right now, participation by producers in the program is voluntary. It’ll be compulsory once the regulations are passed.

Federal and provincial agriculture ministers have mandated a national livestock traceability program to track animal movements and pinpoint sources of disease outbreaks if they occur. The program is to be in place in 2013.

Clark said last week’s $3.7 million funding will also help hire staff to inform the hog industry about the traceability system and work with producers on it.

Once in effect, the system will track the movement of pigs from one location to another. Clark said shippers must submit information online, including: farm of origin, place of destination, date and time of loading and unloading, number of animals on a load, licence plate number of the vehicle. Information must be reported within 48 hours of shipping.

Clark, who works out of the Manitoba Pork Council office in Winnipeg, said the system will make Canada the first country with a fully national swine traceability system.

The ability to track animal movements, pinpoint diseases and identify other animals with which infected pigs may have come in contact could give Canadian pork a leg up internationally over the competition, said Clark.

He said some pork-importing countries have already expressed an interest in Canada’s system. That includes South Korea, which recently experienced a serious foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

“Will it add benefits to producers’ pockets? I can’t guarantee that. That’s up to the marketplace,” Clark said.

“But what we can do is position ourselves to either increase or sustain our market share.”

Clark said the work involved isn’t as onerous for producers as it might sound. Submitting online information for each shipment should take only five minutes at most. And not all pigs will require individual ID tags, since swine usually travel in confined groups. Only breeding animals will require tags. So will special shipments of pigs to fairs and similar events, he said. [email protected]

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