Not requiring hog trailers coming from the U.S. to be washed and disinfected at certified Canadian wash sites is a “a crisis moment for the Canadian swine industry,” says Alberta Pork.
The organization joined its western Canadian counterparts in a last-ditch effort to persuade the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to extend a federally approved trailer-wash pilot project set to expire on May 2.
The pork boards “have pleaded with the federal government to not force Canadian livestock trailers, returning to Canada from hauling pigs into the U.S., to be washed in potentially contaminated wash facilities in the U.S.,” Alberta Pork said in a news release on April 29.
The fear is that some U.S. wash facilities may be recycling water containing the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.
“Unfortunately, our requests and those of the veterinarian community and three Western Chief Provincial Veterinarians have fallen on deaf ears,” Alberta Pork said. “This move to enforce this outdated federal regulation has the potential to not only create a significant level of animal suffering but also economic and emotional hardship on our producers and their families. The PED virus in the U.S. has caused the death of over seven million pigs in the U.S. We do not want that suffering in Canada.”
Last fall, the CFIA said it conducted a scientific review and did not find evidence that using recycled water is a biosecurity risk when all organic matter has been removed and it’s followed by a hot water, detergent wash and an application of disinfectant.
But Alberta veterinarian Dr. Egan Brockhoff said wash facilities are superior in Western Canada.
“We’ve got a great training system, we’ve got great truck washes that understand swine biosecurity and take it very seriously,” Brockhoff told the hog industry-sponsored program Farmscape last month.
“If we look back on the last few years that we’ve had them in place, we’ve had very little introduction of PED virus into Western Canada.”
Manitoba has had a few cases of PED, but there have been no cases in Alberta or Saskatchewan, he noted.
If the CFIA doesn’t relent, producers should take extra precautions, Alberta Pork said in its news release.
“Alberta Pork is advising all swine producers in Western Canada to insist that any trailer returning from the U.S. be properly washed and disinfected in a certified Canadian facility,” said said. “Producers should assume that trailers washed only at U.S. facilities are almost certainly contaminated with the PED virus.”