Manitoba saw a surge of producers registered with the Canadian Pork Council’s (CPC) PigCARE and PigSAFE programs in the last year, but rollout has been slower than first hoped.
Why it matters: The Manitoba Pork Council has said the programs, and their increased biosecurity and traceability requirements, are critical for maintaining market access.
Just under 40 per cent of Manitoba pig farms are registered with the two programs, the second-highest proportion in the country, behind Quebec. That province has just under half of producers registered, CPC chair Rick Bergmann said April 14, during the Manitoba Pork Council’s annual meeting.
Last year, well under 10 per cent of Manitoba farms were registered.
“We would anticipate that these numbers that you see here will continue to accelerate as time goes on,” Bergmann said.
Deadlines for the program have been extended to January 2024, he added.
The programs, along with traceability program PigTRACE make up the Canadian Pork Excellence platform — the industry’s updated approach to food safety, animal care and traceability standards. PigSAFE integrates prior quality assurance standards with new measures on water quality, bedding, feed, biosecurity, and vaccine and drug use. It also, Bergmann said, forms a foundation for the industry’s ractopamine-free certification program, which maintains access for Canadian pork in markets like China. PigCARE, meanwhile, adds in the 2014 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs to the industry’s prior Animal Care Assessment, including the phase-out of gestation stalls.
“Collectively, these programs allow us to differentiate our pork in domestic and export markets,” Bergmann said.
Both PigSAFE and PigCARE were launched in 2019. The CPC focused on implementing the programs on farms throughout last year.
“This takes a fair amount of paperwork or back-office effort to ensure that this happens,” Bergmann said. “We have to really ensure program credibility. We have to ensure validative (sic) consistency and streamline on-farm implementation and really improve consistency of delivery.”
Limited person-to-person contact due to COVID-19 and ongoing “live contract negotiations” around pricing in Western Canada have slowed some of those efforts, he noted.
Manitoba Pork Council general manager Cam Dahl said he felt the rollout of PigCARE and PigSAFE is going well in the province, despite the delays.
“I’m pleased with the uptake and I’m pleased with the rollout and we are on track,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a permanent barrier… I would refer to this as a slight delay,” he later added.
The programs are critical to ensuring market access, such as U.S. market access for Manitoba’s young animals, he added.