Que. hog farmers backed for PRRS-fighting project

Quebec’s hog producers have picked up federal and provincial funding for a "major project" aimed at wiping out the PRRS virus starting in five specific areas.

Quebec MP Jacques Gourde, a former parliamentary secretary for agriculture, and provincial Agriculture Minister Pierre Corbeil on Tuesday pledged $500,000 to the Federation des producteurs de porcs de Quebec (FPPQ) from the governments’ cost-shared Support Program for Sectoral Development Strategies.

The FPPQ, which represents 3,800 farmers provincewide, has pledged another $320,000 for the project, the aim of which is to "control and ultimately eradicate" the virus causing porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

The funding backs the second of two phases in the federation’s project. The first phase, which began last summer and is about to wrap up, sought to gauge producers’ level of interest in working together to collect data on their farms’ biosecurity and the sources of the virus.

The second phase, a two-year pilot program, will include 225 farms in five production zones in the Monteregie, Chaudiere-Appalaches, Estrie and Centre-du-Quebec regions, undergoing reviews and testing, collecting data and developing recommendations to make any changes needed on the farms.

"By 2014, an expected 15 to 20 additional production zones will be covered by virus control measures until the disease is eradicated from Quebec entirely," the governments said in their release.

"Implementation of the project will allow for the development of strategies initiated by producers themselves to fight PRRS."
PRRS, which is not transmissible to humans, can trigger abortions in breeding sows and limit piglets’ growth and, according to the FPPQ, costs producers over $30 million per year.

"The project is also part of the FPPQ’s vision to reduce on-farm production costs by improving the health status of our herds," FPPQ vice-president Cecilien Berthiaume, who represents the Beauce region on the federation board, said in the governments’ release.

The Support Program for Sectoral Development Strategies, associated with the federal AgriFlexibility Fund and budgeted for $16.7 million last March, is meant to "stimulate growth and strengthen co-ordination in (agrifood) sectors within a highly competitive and constantly changing business environment."

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