Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Canada, EU agree to swine fever zoning rules

Zoning principles were already in place through CETA

african swine fever virus
A macrophage (immune response) cell in early stages of infection with African swine fever virus, magnified about 1,000x. (Keith Weller photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Canada and Europe have agreed to new zoning arrangements in a case of African swine fever outbreak, but it’s not clear what will actually change.

The agreement, which Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Wednesday. would allow for safe trade of swine products from disease-free zones if a case of ASF is found.

Zoning principles applying to ASF were already in place with the EU through the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). A federal news release said the new agreement will be an “additional step forward in international collaboration” but did not elaborate.

The announcement comes on the heels of a similar agreement with the United States.

In May, federal officials from Canada and the U.S. worked to modify export certificates to allow trade of live swine, swine semen, pet food and animal byproducts to continue, in the case of an outbreak, through the use of zoning principles, the Manitoba Co-operator reported.

In May, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency told the Co-operator that in the Canada-U.S. agreement, a “zone” was defined as an “area of control” composed of a central, infected zone, likely around the affected farm or farms. One or more buffer zones would be declared around the infected area.

Efforts to eradicate the disease would be targeted at the infected zone. The outer zones would be subject to increased surveillance, restricted movement and other biosecurity measures.

“When the chief veterinary officer of the affected country is confident that the outbreak in an area of control is contained, he informs the chief veterinary officer of the unaffected country of the borders of the area of control. then trade should resume from outside of the approved area of control,” the CFIA spokesperson said.

“The concept is to make that zone effective so we can control the disease,” Manitoba Pork general manager Andrew Dickson said, following the May announcement.

“But on the other hand, we don’t want to make it so big that we can’t move animals that are perfectly healthy simply because there’s a suspicion that they may or may not have the disease. The very detailed rules will be discussed now between the veterinarians in the two countries.”

Pork’s frequent animal transport will make traceability critical for setting up those finer zoning details, Dickson said, pointing to industry efforts to set up the PigTRACE traceability program.

— Geralyn Wichers is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator in Winnipeg. Includes files from Alexis Stockford of the Co-operator.

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