Pork assurance program moving ahead after pause for producer feedback

The Canadian pork sector is aiming for a 2021 deadline for all pork producers to be on its new Canadian Pork Excellence assurance program.

The Canadian Pork Council and its member provincial associations took a step backwards on the plan last year after an outcry from pork producers about a lack of consultation.

Why it matters: Quality assurance programs that go beyond food safety and into areas of animal welfare and environmental impact can have significant impact on farm operations, so getting the program right the first time is important.

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“When you don’t feel consulted, you don’t feel like your concerns have been heard and you worry about things more,” said Eric Schwindt, chair of the board of Ontario Pork.

Schwindt says there were three areas that concerned hog farmers including:

  • Lack of consultation
  • Concern about on-farm practicality of the program
  • Questions about how the program would benefit the farm businesses of hog producers

The concerns prompted increased consultation across the country and resulted in more than 100 changes, said Han Kristensen, first vice-chair of the Canadian Pork Council board of directors, at Ontario Pork’s annual meeting.

In Ontario there have been 24 farms testing the program, says Frank Wood, manager of industry and member services at Ontario Pork.

A major change for Ontario in the new version of CPE is that farms with multiple species can now qualify. For example, a farm that has both a pig barn and chicken barn on the same property, can now fit into the program.

The draft proposal for the CPE program has been posted to the Ontario Pork website, in the members area.

Hans Kristensen, first vice-chair of the Canadian Pork Council said 100 changes were made to the Canadian Pork Excellence program last year. Photo: John Greig

Canadian pork producers were early adopters of quality assurance programs with the Certified Quality Assurance program which addressed food safety and included an animal welfare assessment. The new CPE, however, goes further.

CPE brings together CQA as PigSafe, the currently functioning PigTrace program that tracks pig movement and PigCare – the new animal welfare program.

PigCare will make sure that the 2014 updates to the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs are being implemented on farms. There are significant changes in the codes of practice including a move to group housing for gestating sows by 2024. New barns being built already have to comply.

“Basically we’re trying to increase our game,” said Kristensen. “The pause button was pushed on the program. We went back to the program, and made 100 changes in the past year.”

He credited former CPC board member from Ontario Teresa Van Raay with making the board stick to its evaluation of all feedback from producers.

Kristensen said the program isn’t finalized yet. About 200 producers have seen the program and he expects more feedback once it gets in the hands of Canada’s 7000 pork producers.

Manuals have been printed for the program already, as that was a requirement of completing funding from the Growing Forward 2 program that runs out at the end of this month. The manuals are binders, so information can be changed and replaced yet, said Kristensen.

From September 2018 farmers will have voluntary access to the program, but they will be required to conform to it when their three-year CQA review comes up between 2019 and 2021.

About the author

Editor

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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