OTTAWA, Ontario – Canada is hosting an international African Swine Fever forum in Ottawa from April 30 to May 1, the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported.

The event is a collaboration with the United States and with support from Mexico, the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health, provincial, territorial and state partners in addition to agriculture industry partners.

The two-day event is an opportunity to enhance international cooperation in four key areas: preparedness, planning, enhanced biosecurity, ensuring business continuity and coordinated risk communication, CFIA said. Session will include panel and interactive discussions aimed and developing a collaborative framework for managing the threat of ASF.

“As Canada’s new Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I am committed to continuing Canada’s efforts to prevent the introduction of African swine fever into the country,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “By working collaboratively, producers, the Canadian public at large and the international community can help stop the spread of this deadly disease affecting swine populations and protect Canada’s fourth largest agricultural sector.”

Canada has never had an ASF outbreak, but the diseases poses a significant threat to the country’s pork industry which generates approximately C$24 billion to the Canadian economy, according to CFIA. Canada exported 1.2 million tonnes of pork in 2017 to more than 100 countries in 2017, at a total value of C$4 billion. The pork industry Canada also contributes more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, mainly in the provinces of Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.

Canada is taking steps to guard against the disease entering the country via meat products from China that are illegally imported. Bibeau announced new funding of up to C$31 million to increase the number of dogs trained to sniff out illegally imported meat. The funding will add 24 detector dog teams over five years, bringing the total number to 39 Food, Plant and Animal Detector Dog Service teams, CFIA said. Other actions include:

  • raising awareness among travelers through social media;
  • redirected current detector dog capacity to key international airports;
  • providing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers with guidance on applying the penalty of C$1,300 to travelers who fail to declare pork or pork products or any other meat when entering Canada; and
  • partnering with Canada’s pork industry, industry associations and provinces to generate awareness and help maintain a high level of vigilance and standards on pig farms.

“Foreign animal diseases pose a serious threat to Canadian industry,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “While there has never been a case of African swine fever in Canada, the Canada Border Service Agency recognizes the risks posed by travelers and commercial imports and has taken steps to keep our country safe.”