West’s hog farmers urged to insist trailers cleaned in Canada

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Hog industry officials in Western Canada want hog producers to insist that livestock trailers coming to their farms be washed at certified Canadian cleaning facilities — even if the trailers were just cleaned on the U.S. side of the border.

The recommendation comes as a federally-approved trailer-wash pilot project, credited with helping to keep porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) out of much of Western Canada, is scheduled to end effective Monday (May 2).

Normally, the federal Health of Animals Act requires that swine transporters returning to Canada from the U.S. have their trailers washed at U.S. facilities.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in February 2014, agreed to suspend that rule and allow truckers coming in from the U.S. to instead have their trailers washed and disinfected at certified Canadian wash sites.

The pilot project was originally due to end in mid-January, but CFIA in December last year allowed its extension until May 2.

Manitoba Pork, in a release Friday, said the Canadian facilities have been “disease-free” while U.S. truck washes were set up in “regions where PED had become rampant.”

The hog producer agency said it would advise all producers in Western Canada to insist any trailer returning from the U.S. also be “properly washed and disinfected in a certified Canadian facility” and to assume trailers washed only at U.S. facilities “are almost certainly contaminated with the PED virus.”

The pilot project, Manitoba Pork said, has been “extremely successful in keeping Western Canada free of PED.” The West has seen just five on-farm cases of PED since the program was launched, the agency said.

Of those, Manitoba Pork said, all were in Manitoba and all have since “been contained.” British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have reported no cases.

By comparison, Ontario has confirmed 90 on-farm cases of PED between the beginning of February 2014 and the end of March this year. Several such cases were reported in Quebec, and one in Prince Edward Island.

CFIA now plans to end the program “even though there is no evidence that such facilities will not contaminate disease-free Canadian transporters,” Manitoba Pork said Friday.

The agency said the government “continues to ignore professional advice from practicing veterinarians, all the major swine producer groups, the chief veterinary officers of the three Prairie provinces, and swine health researchers.”

Speaking last week on the hog industry-sponsored program Farmscape, Dr. Egan Brockhoff of Prairie Swine Health Services at Red Deer, Alta. said he expected veterinarians would recommend trailers be washed and disinfected again in Canada, followed by “a proper thermal assist drying procedure to those trailers, to ensure we’re minimizing or eliminating (the PED virus) as much as possible.”

To be sure, he said, having the trailers cleaned in the U.S. and the process repeated in Canada has “the potential to double or more the cost of the whole process, and needlessly double it.”

However, he said, Western Canada now boasts a truck wash certification program “to ensure our truck washes are up to standards and delivering a safe and effective wash to our transporters.”

Certified truck washes in the region have wash procedure audits and protocols, he said, which “gives a level of security that most regions don’t enjoy, and certainly something we want to continue to promote and work with.” — AGCanada.com Network

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