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Swine Traceability Gets Financial Boost

The Canadian pork industry is on track to meet a 2011 deadline for a national livestock traceability system, thanks in part to a $3.3-million federal cash injection.

The money is part of a $15-million industry package announced by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz at a news conference last week.

The program will also spend $9.5 million on pork research, $1.4 million on pork trade promotion and nearly $840,000 on swine improvement.

The $3.3 million will go mainly toward developing a database and national traceability software designed by a Quebec service provider, said Jeff Clark, the Canadian Pork Council’s national traceability program manager.

“This money essentially means, other than buying tags, producers will not have to spend a dime on traceability,” Clark said.

“It’s a huge blessing.”

The federal government has mandated a national livestock traceability system and set 2011 as the implementation date.

Not every pig born in Canada will need an identification tag to track its movements. Animals moving in groups, such as feeders, nursery pigs or unbred gilts, will not require individual tags but must provide movement information. Breeding animals leaving the farm must be tagged, Clark said.

“My goal is to bother producers as little as possible. We want to make this practical, we want to make it easy, we want to make it cheap. And I think we’re a long way toward doing that.”

The program will offer three kinds of tags ranging in price from 57 cents to $1.70 each if purchased in batches of 1,000.

Tags have been available since last year. Clark said data trials involving producers and companies will begin early this summer.

The traceability program will require new regulations under the federal Animal Health Act. Clark said a final round of consultations with provincial pork boards about the regulations is underway. He expected they will be published for public comment in the Canada Gazette this summer. The final version should be ready before the end of 2010.

The main purpose of traceability is for emergency management – being able to track animals back to their herd of origin in case of a livestock disease, said Clark.

But traceability is also seen as important for Canada’s pork exports, especially since some countries are beginning to make it mandatory for imports.

Having traceability gives Canada an advantage over trading partners lacking the system, said Jurgen Preugschas, Canadian Pork Council president. [email protected]

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