Ont. hog farmers backed for projects to fight PRRS

The federal government plans to put up funding for a series of "small-scale" projects examining ways for hog farmers to control and wipe out a notorious livestock disease.

The collaborative two-year project, to be co-ordinated by the Ontario Pork Industry Council’s Swine Health Advisory Board (OSHAB), is expected to involve producers, veterinarians and industry and to pilot a strategy for advanced biosecurity and control of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

The projects will get $294,500 in federal funds from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP).

The investment is expected to provide "tools, co-ordination and funds to initiate small-scale projects for controlling and eradicating" PRRS, the government said in a release Wednesday.

Over the long term, the program is expected to improve strategies used by producers and service providers to reduce transmission of PRRS.

The program is also expected to serve as a model for other provinces, and its results are to be shared with industry and the Canadian Swine Health Board.

PRRS, which causes reproductive failure in breeding stock and respiratory tract illness in young pigs, is estimated to cost Canadian hog farmers $130 million per year.

"This funding will allow (OSHAB) to provide ongoing leadership to develop PRRS area regional control and elimination projects here in Ontario," Dr. Jane Carpenter, the Stratford-based advisory board’s lead on this program, said in the federal release.

"This approach is unique in that it allows for grassroots engagement by producers who are ready to implement change in areas throughout Ontario whether it is a control or elimination program."

CAAP, a five-year (2009-14), $163 million program, requires activities for all funded projects to be completed no later than March 31, 2014.

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