Pork pro­duc­ers im­ple­ment trac­ing pro­gram

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News - BY AN­GELA BROWN News Staff

Many of Glen­garry’s pork pro­duc­ers are in the midst of im­ple­ment­ing plans so their prod­uct can be bet­ter traced to its ori­gins to meet new gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

“The Cana­dian pork in­dus­try is the first out of the gate to have a trace­abil­ity pro­gram that in­cludes the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of an­i­mals but also move­ment re­port­ing. We ac­tu­ally got a leg up on the Amer­i­cans who do not have this in place,” says Oliver Haan, a pork pro­ducer from the Belleville-Kingston area, vice-chair of On­tario Pork, and On­tario Pork As­so­ci­a­tion board di­rec­tor for Zone 4, rep­re­sent­ing pro­duc­ers from the High­way 400 area in On­tario to the Que­bec bor­der that in­cludes the Glen­garry area.

Trace­abil­ity was one of the is­sues dis­cussed at the re­cent lo­cal Glen­garry- Prescott pork pro­duc­ers' an­nual meet­ing held Fe­bru­ary 11 in Alexandria.

As part of the pro­gram, the Cana­dian pork in­dus­try needs to lo­cate all its pork pro­duc­ers to be able to iden­tify their premises. Then the pro­duc­ers will need to record the move­ments of their pigs.

Mr. Haan says the trace­abil­ity pro­gram is im­por­tant be­cause con­sumers are ask­ing for it. On the one hand, on a lo­cal level many peo­ple are look­ing to con­nect di­rectly with their farmer who pro­vides the prod­uct.

Big ex­porter

Mr. Haan says 75 per cent of Cana­dian pork is ex­ported and “meat buy­ers are look­ing for that trace­abil­ity pro­tec­tion.”

“It’s a huge level of com­fort,” he adds..

He ob­serves Cana­dian pork pro­duc­ers are for­tu­nate to have ac­cess to so many mar­kets to sell their prod­uct.

Re­cently he had the op­por­tu­nity to visit Tokyo, Ja­pan and Korea last year and met with meat buy­ers.

He says he was over­whelmed with the keen in­ter­est in the pro­gram, es­pe­cially in Ja­pan. “They re­ally want to be able to trace back the meat that they are bring­ing into the coun­try.”

He com­ments Korea has such a highly com­pre­hen­sive trace- abil­ity pro­gram in place that con­sumers there are able to iden­tify the time of the meat pro­duc­tion, the lo­ca­tion where the meat was pro­cessed as well as the lo­ca­tion of the farm where the an­i­mal orig­i­nated, when they are pur­chas­ing their meat at the gro­cery store.

“Cana­dian pork is one of the first out of the gate with this pro­gram,” adds Mr. Haan. “A key step in that is find­ing out where all our pro­duc­ers are.”

He says pro­duc­ers are ex­pected to be­gin tak­ing steps to be­come fa­mil­iar with the trace­abil­ity pro­gram. The gov­ern­ment and the in­dus­try aims to in­crease aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion about the pro­gram, but at some point in the fu­ture the gov­ern­ment will im­pose fines on pro­duc­ers who don’t im­ple­ment a trace­abil­ity pro­gram for their farm.

While most pro­duc­ers al­ready tat­too their an­i­mals to iden­tify them in ful­fill­ing the first part of the trace­abil­ity pro­gram, farm­ers also need to re­port their an­i­mals’ move­ments within a seven-day pe­riod and sub­mit a re­port in­di­cat­ing the num­bers of pigs that left the barn, in­clud­ing the ac­tual li­cence-plate num­ber of the truck used for ship­ping them to the pro­ces­sor. Then, within seven days the pro­ces­sor who re­ceived the an­i­mals will need to sub­mit a re­port also.

Mr. Haan says cur­rently about 50 per cent of pork pro­ducer premises are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the trace­abil­ity pro­gram, and ad­her­ing to the leg­is­la­tion that is ad­min­is­tered un­der the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency. Even­tu­ally, all pro­duc­ers are ob­li­gated to en­rol in the pro­gram. While there is no cost to par­tic­i­pate, pro­duc­ers agree to in­vest a bit of their time in com­plet­ing their re­ports.

“My key mes­sage is: if you haven’t done it yet, while the snow is on the ground and you are in the house try­ing to stay warm, take his op­por­tu­nity to get your trace­abil­ity pro­gram in or­der be­cause the reg­u­la­tions are there,” Mr. Haan says.

He adds a large part of the value of the trace­abil­ity pro­gram is that it will pro­vide in­creased pro­tec­tion in dis­ease con­trol and preven­tion to en­sure greater food safety.

Look­ing at the lo­cal pork in­dus­try, Mr Haan says the num­ber of pro­duc­ers in the Glen­garry area has been fairly con­sis­tent for the most part in re­cent years.

Pric­ing val­ues in­creased for On­tario hog sales as a re­sult of re­duced sup­ply mainly in the US. mar­ket and in parts of Canada over the past year. In 2014 the av­er­age re­turn to pro­ducer per pig was $209 while a pro­ducer’s in­put cost per pig was about $177, re­sult­ing in a $30 or al­most $40 re­turn for a mar­ket an­i­mal. In com­par­i­son, while the av­er­age in­put cost to pro­ducer was up 1.1 per cent from 2013, the av­er­age price, called the for­mula price, per pig in­creased by 25 per cent from 2013.

Com­mon sense

A large fac­tor in the in­creased pric­ing is that the U.S. and Cana­dian pork in­dus­try was im­pacted by porcine epi­demic di­ar­rhea virus last year. Mr. Haan says there were far fewer cases of the virus in Canada com­pared to the im­pact the virus had on the U.S. mar­ket where it orig­i­nated in 2013. He says the sig­nif­i­cant short­age of hogs in the U.S. mar­ket par­tic­u­larly re­sulted in in­creased prices for On­tario pro­duc­ers, adding that in this province num­bers of pigs pro­duced was ac­tu­ally slightly higher that the pre­vi­ous year.

Mr. Haan says the virus does not im­pact food safety and as a re­sult of the preva­lence of the virus last year pro­duc­ers are in­creas­ing their dili­gence with their bio se­cu­rity ef­forts in their barn oper­a­tions.

While pro­duc­ers are “not out of the woods” en­tirely in elim­i­nat­ing the virus they are see­ing fewer cases as a re­sult of in­creased aware­ness of the dis­ease.

“You have to keep your guard up and do what you have to do to keep the virus out of your fa­cil­i­ties,” he adds.

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