The 46th annual Ontario Pork Congress (OPC) will go ahead as planned on June 19-20 in Stratford – a decision reached after event organizers consulted with “veterinarians and industry professionals” about the risk of African swine fever (ASF).
“As always, the strength of the Ontario swine industry is our main concern,” stated an OPC news release announcing the decision, “so the (organizing) committee will reevaluate this decision if the current disease threat situation changes.”
Why it matters: Globally, the pork industry continues to monitor the current spread of ASF, which has cut a devastating swath through China and has spread in smaller outbreaks through Asia and eastern Europe.
The announcement came less than two weeks after the US-based National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) board of directors cited “an abundance of caution” about ASF’s transmission in cancelling the World Pork Expo, which was to be held in Des Moines, Iowa from June 5-7. An estimated 20,000 pork producers and industry stakeholders were expected to attend.
The WPE draws visitors from around the world and concern about international visitors carrying the virus into the country prompted the show’s cancellation.
The large live hog show that takes place at the World Pork Expo will continue to take place.
The NPPC news release stressed the actual risk at the event of the arrival in North America of ASF is very small.
“While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution,” said North Carolina pork producer and NPPC president David Herring, in the news release. “The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defence against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”
OPC organizers said in their news release that ASF “is a major global concern for swine producers,” and noted “the North American swine industry has responded … by improving and strengthening their biosecurity protocols.”
“Biosecurity will be top of mind for event coordinators, exhibitors, and participants,” the OPC says. “OPC asks that producers and industry members who attend OPC heighten their biosecurity practices before and after visiting the show, and to refer to any Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs advisories available related to ASF as they arise.”
Both the World Pork Expo and the Ontario Pork Congress have been cancelled once previously in their history due to disease transmission threat. Both happened in 2001 due to the risk of foot-and-mouth disease.