The federation of Quebec pork producers (FPPQ), which co-ordinates the initiative, has also invested C$320,000, bringing the project’s value to C$820,000.
FPPQ vice-president Cécilien Berthiaume said: “The C$500,000 financial participation of MAPAQ and the federal government shows a significant desire from the government to support strong initiatives for Quebec pig farms. This project is also in line with FPPQ’s vision to reduce production costs on farms by improving the sanitary status of our herds.”
The project aims to reduce PRRS by spotting and proposing solutions to mistakes made on farms. In the first phase, which started in the summer of 2011, the organisation measured producers’ willingness to share confidential data for the project. “I hail the producers who have accepted to participate with open-mindedness and transparency, as the process requires them to share confidential information,” added Berthiaume.
The second part of the initiative will last two years, with experts making checks and tests necessary to collect the information in order to formulate recommendations and correct on-farm behaviour. “The data collected is linked to the very nature of the types of PRRS viruses. Producers participate voluntarily to this pilot project and give highly confidential information on the presence or absence of the virus, in all transparency,” Berthiaume told GlobalMeatNews.
“At the end of this pilot exercise, conclusions and recommendations will be able to be applied to all pork producers in Quebec, preserving herd health and contributing to the financial health of our livestock farmers,” he added.
According to FPPQ, PRRC costs C$30m a year to pig producers, and the federation estimates that 15% of that cost could be saved with the project. Although it is primarily focused on Quebec, there would be scope to expand it to other provinces if it is successful. “If the exercise gives good results, we can think that other provinces affected by the virus will be interested. However, in order to be successful, the project must be based on a collective approach of information-sharing. This is crucial, and whether producers outside Quebec are ready to disclose that information remains to be seen. It’s a matter of choice,” Berthiaume added.
However, PRRS does not affect western provinces as much as eastern ones, as farms are closer together in the east of the country, making it easier for the virus to spread. According to Berthiaume: “In the east, we combat the virus. In the west, we work to avoid the virus.”