The health of Canada‚Äôs livestock took centre stage as federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture emerged from their annual meeting in Fredericton last week.
During the closing press conference where ministers summarized their work, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the establishment of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank. The most recent federal budget committed $57.5 million over five years to the initiative as well as $5.6 million in ongoing funding to support the initiative as well as development of plans to respond to a FMD outbreak.
The initiative will be led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which will launch a procurement process for the project this fall.
The meeting also discussed efforts to prevent as well as plan for a possible outbreak of African Swine Fever. The need for ongoing collaboration between all levels of government as well as industry¬†was noted, with an industry engagement process taking place before fall.
‚ÄúMinisters recognized the importance of increasing Canada‚Äôs readiness and capacity to respond to potential disease outbreaks,‚ÄĚ a statement said.
The recent avian influenza outbreak provided several key lessons, Bibeau says.
CFIA resources were stretched thin by the scale of the outbreak, which had producers in every province on high alert rather than just BC as in the past.
‚ÄúWhen we were with members of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, they [reported] openness and flexibility from the CFIA team to adapt and to learn through the process of the last year and a half,‚ÄĚ Bibeau told County Life in BC during the media briefing.
Strategies for depopulation, cleaning and disinfection of barns were key areas where changes have been made.
However, further work needs to be done at improving collaboration between government and industry, including the delegation of responsibilities. There are high hopes that industry groups can play a greater role in leading response efforts under CFIA oversight in the future.
‚ÄúHow the responsibilities are being shared between CFIA and the industry, that kind of discussion is still taking place,‚ÄĚ Bibeau says.