PigTRACE hog traceability program to get an overhaul

Five years after participation became mandatory, not all producers are reporting movements, Manitoba Pork says

The accuracy of PigTRACE, Canada’s industry-led, live animal traceability initiative, is being re-evaluated as the threat of African swine fever looms.

“Is it good enough to have 80 per cent of the reports in at seven days or should we have that done sooner?” Manitoba Pork general manager Andrew Dickson asked producers at a meeting in Portage on October 30.

“In the event of an African swine fever outbreak, we would really like to know what all the movements are within that day,” he said.

The live-animal hog traceability program became mandatory in 2014. PigTRACE requires that all movements of live hogs, deadstock or deadstock parts be reported within seven days.

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PigTRACE manager Jeff Clark told the group that 1,547 premises in Manitoba are registered with the program. This includes 278 “hobby” farms, and 41 abattoirs, rendering facilities and other related facilities.

Recent Statistics Canada data shows 590 farms reporting hogs in Manitoba. In an email to the Manitoba Co-operator Clark clarified that Statistics Canada counts a “farm” as a farming enterprise, while PigTRACE counts physical locations of farms.

Clark told the producers that the program has collected enough data to show repeating patterns (such as regular shipments between locations), allowing him to notice new movements and abnormalities. The data can also be used to model the spread of disease — ASF, for instance.

“It’s a really exciting time for me after all these years of collecting the data,” Clark said.

Clark and Dickson noted that, while the program has been mandatory for five years, compliance isn’t perfect. Clark told the group that during a recent disease issue, they’d realized that one involved organization wasn’t reporting.

“I have to do some super-sleuthing to fill in the gaps. Is that what we want?” Clark said.

Clark asked the group to consider how hard the industry should go after non-compliers. He issues non-compliance notifications, but he could report offenders to the CFIA.

“They’re the police officers. They can take action,” Clark said. “People can hang up on me or delete the email.”

“This is an odd thing when you think about it,” said Dickson, noting that they are a producer organization implementing a federal regulation.

“It puts us as a producer organization in an awkward position,” he said, adding they know there are producers who don’t report year after year.

He and Clark speculated that some producers weren’t reporting because they’re busy, while others might be concerned about privacy. They said all information is subject to strict privacy laws.

Clark said he’s trying to reach out to reporting producers, in hopes this will encourage them to keep participating in PigTRACE.

“If I was throwing data into this black hole year after year and no one’s saying thank you or saying anything, why should I do it?” he said.

Clark told the Co-operator that along with compliance and accuracy issues, PigTRACE will also be evaluated for operation efficiencies, user-friendliness, communication, rebalancing of CPC staff workload, and will do advanced analysis of movement patterns.

About the author

Reporter

Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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