STRATFORD, ONTARIO - Thanks to a new government investment aimed at improving the Canadian pork industry's disease emergency response system, Ontario pork producers will be better positioned to maintain viability and profitability when responding to foreign animal disease outbreaks.

The Ontario Pork Industry Council (O.P.I.C.) will receive an investment of $175,000 to improve and address any potential gaps in the Ontario pork industry's emergency response system, announced Member of Parliament Gary Schellenberger (Perth-Wellington), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on April 13.

"A quick response plan for foreign animal disease outbreaks will help producers manage disease and reduce the financial implications," Mr. Schellenberger said. "By being proactive in establishing a clear and effective emergency response plan, the pork industry in the riding of Perth-Wellington and across Ontario will remain strong and competitive in the global marketplace."

O.P.I.C., in working with Ontario Pork and the sector, will develop the disease emergency response plan for the Ontario pork industry. Project activities include clarifying roles and responsibilities, developing communications networks, and assessing the role of traceability in emergency preparedness. The plan will help coordinate and complement existing federal and provincial government programs and improve industry communications across the country.

"Although we all hope to never face a foreign animal disease emergency in our industry, we have to make sure we are ready to deal with such an emergency," said Lori Moser, O.P.I.C. managing director. "All levels of government as well as industry partners have a role to play in disease emergency management and this funding will help enable the Ontario pork industry to respond immediately and effectively at first detection of a potential disease emergency."

In 2009, Ontario's pork industry contributed $4 billion and 27,000 jobs from farm to fork in the Canadian economy.

Funding for this project is being provided by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (C.A.A.P.). In Ontario, C.A.A.P. is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (A.A.C.).

"The disease emergency response system developed through this C.A.A.P. project will increase the Ontario pork industry's ability to prepare for and respond to potential emergencies in the sector," said Oliver Haan, a director with A.A.C. and Ontario Pork. "It will be an invaluable tool."

C.A.A.P. is a five-year (2009-2014), $163-million national initiative that intends to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive. Eligible C.A.A.P. projects could be in areas of traceability, environment, climate change, capacity development, pests and diseases and more.