What we heard report – Canada's proposed national standards for African swine fever compartments
Through continued government and industry collaboration on Canada's prevention and preparedness efforts on African swine fever (ASF), the pork industry requested that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) increase readiness by leading the development of a voluntary national compartment program for ASF.
Co-chaired by the CFIA and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC), three separate working groups were formed to develop a draft of the national requirements for Canada's National Compartmentalization Program (NCP) for ASF. Two components of the proposed NCP requirements that were developed by these groups are the following:
- National Standards: details all of the requirements that the operator-level ASF compartment program must meet. The CFIA will review and provide comments as to whether the more granular ASF compartment operator program developed by the CPC to meet these requirements.
- Framework: details all of the requirements for the administration and implementation of an ASF compartment program by CPC as the compartment administrator.
The input gathered through this consultation will help shape Canada's National Standards and Framework for ASF compartments.
This report summarizes the feedback received between March 18, 2022 and June 16, 2022 on the National Standards and Framework. Feedback was received through an online consultation with stakeholders, including industry members interested in participating in a compartment program and other government organizations.
The CFIA and CPC co-hosted a webinar on March 18, 2022 to:
- introduce and educate on the complex subject of compartments and specifically the proposed National Standards and Framework; and
- allow stakeholders to ask questions to better understand the proposed NCP
The CFIA opened the consultation on the two draft documents following the webinar, on March 18, 2022, for a 60-day comment period that ended on June 16, 2022.
Who we heard from
The CFIA received 72 submissions outlining questions and proposed adjustments to the proposed National Standards and Framework during the comment period. The responses arrived via:
- direct messages through social media
The submissions came from:
- national and provincial industry associations
- provincial Ministries of Agriculture (Chief Veterinary Officers and other individuals)
- owners and managers of swine artificial insemination centres
- national association of swine veterinarians
- individual swine production companies
- not-for-profit organizations
- private individuals
- CFIA staff
What we heard
Elements well supported
The majority of respondents commended the CFIA for undertaking the development of a NCP for ASF:
"The consensus was a compartmentalization program would offer a viable risk management strategy for commercial sub-populations to protect business continuity in the event of African swine fever being detected in Canada. The Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians supports a compartmentalization program involving a partnership of industry and CFIA."
- The Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians
"As a tool, we believe compartmentalization is an excellent way to encourage pig producers to be ready and prepared in the event ASF arrives in North America."
- Alberta Pork
"We would like to applaud the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) leadership, scientists, and staff, as well as those of the Canadian Pork Council, for investigating and developing the NCP, which has great potential to protect animal welfare and prevent significant disruptions of global trade. Further, lessons learned while developing, implementing, and managing the NCP will benefit other disease management programs. At its core, this ASF Compartment program demonstrates the value of effective biosecurity, surveillance, and traceability measures to modern swine operations, all of which we believe will help the industry progress and be more sustainable, particularly with respect to animal welfare and disease prevention."
Elements not well supported or that required clarification
Five main themes emerged from the feedback received from this consultation:
- Appearance of CFIA delegating responsibility to industry
Multiple individuals expressed the belief that the NCP was replacing a federal response to an outbreak of ASF should it occur in Canada.
- Compartments vs zoning
Several pork industry associations expressed the concern that they did not want the CFIA to work on an ASF compartment program if it meant diverting resources away from pursuing zoning agreements with international trading partners.
- International acceptance of Canadian NCP
Another concern that was raised by pork industry associations was that any benefit from establishing a compartment program for ASF was dependent on international market recognition of such a program and that recognition should be established prior to developing the program.
- Clarifications around associated facilities
A considerable number of pork genetics companies and operators of swine artificial insemination centres submitted questions regarding roles and responsibilities of their businesses when associated with an ASF compartment.
- Technical comments
In addition to the above, multiple questions and comments were received about details of the highly technical requirements in the proposed nationals standards.
The concerns described in themes 1, 2, and 3 above reflect a misunderstanding of the role of a compartment program in the suite of tools to help industry deal with a possible ASF outbreak and the process to obtain international recognition. For example, the compartment program is not part of nor does it replace the regulatory actions that the CFIA may use in response to ASF. Rather, it is an additional tool that industry may decide to implement, which could support business continuity during an outbreak.
Where possible, the CFIA and CPC will be providing further information and clarification with industry to address the technical issues described in themes 4 and 5 above, that presented potential logistical obstacles to the successful implementation of a NCP.
The CFIA anticipates publishing the final versions in the National Standards and Framework for ASF in early 2023. Once published these documents will be subject to a regular review to ensure that any new scientific information is incorporated into the program and any newly identified issues are addressed.
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