Here are some observations and comments put together to further highlight what PigTrace Canada is and isn’t.
The United States does not have an electronic movement reporting system like the Canadian pork industry, nor are they in the process of implementing such a system and Canada is way ahead.
The U.S. is thinking about traceability, developing an official ear tag, and some legislated identification requirements when moving animals, particularly between states. The U.S. had plans to implement a traceability system a couple of years ago. The majority of the livestock associations were in favour, particularly the National Pork Producers Council, few groups and many individuals are dead set against it.
To develop and implement a traceability program that works consistently with a central database is a long process. Canada started developing its national traceability system in 2002, including a pilot study, selecting a service provider, developing the database, premises registration, assigning unique premises IDs and unique herd marks to farms.
The U.S. system only requires movement information for pig shipments crossing state borders, but shipments to processing plants are exempt.
Furthermore, the information goes as paper to the state veterinarian’s office, so there does not exist a single, integrated national (or even regional) system in any way.
There is no relationship to the U.S. M-COOL legislation and therefore it has no effect on compliance with M-COOL. The U.S. requires some form of identification for swine entering their country either by tags or tattoos. PigTrace has no linkage or bearing on COOL, other than identifying pigs as coming from Canada.
Some have searched for links for years connecting PigTrace and M-COOL, but come up empty handed. PigTrace could assist with M-COOL compliance, but that would take work, agreement, and collaboration with U.S. industry.
For the most part, traceability works on a batch level, except for some specific health and geographic situations. There is no requirement to identify individual animals except for certain ‘high risk’ types of movements, in reality not very common. The program guide outlines exactly when a stakeholder needs a unique animal identification.
For farm-to-farm movements, the producers simply must report a group of pigs moved between the two premises along with the license plate of the truck that moved the pigs.
For pigs going to slaughter or export, they need either a tattoo or an approved tag, like a slap tattoo with the farm’s 5-digit herd mark to the animal.The slaughter plant reads this number.
Even before Canada had a very strong farm-to-slaughter identification and traceability system for many years. PigTrace requires reporting this data to a centralized database. Every time a stakeholder moves or receives pigs, the data recording/read must then go to the central database, whether that pig moves once, twice, or multiple times.
PigTrace can work with both batches and individuals. The program has individual ID tags that are registered to a farm. The group movement uses “herd marks”, which is a five digit number assigned to a premise (barn site) used as a tattoo or on tags.
PigTrace gives the Canadian pork industry a competitive edge by offering pork buyers and importing countries improved production security resilient to market disruptions resulting from disease or food safety problems. This improved security offers pork buyers peace of mind in knowing they are sourcing pork from one of the most secure supply chains in the world.
Canada is one of only a few countries to initiate a national swine traceability system. In being one of the first countries to initialize a national program, Canada is securing our position as a global leader. •
— By Harry Siemens