Good morning. My name is John de Bruyn. I'm a pork producer with my family in Oxford County and somewhat saturated southwestern Ontario.
I'm happy to be here today to present to this committee on the activities to prevent and respond to the threat of ASF for the Canadian swine industry. I'm going to share some perspectives from Ontario's pork sector. Where possible I will also highlight the elements of the recent work by the Canadian Pork Council and Swine Health Ontario.
The Ontario pork sector represents a significant share of Canada's agri-food sector. We're talking about $950 million in GDP, $2.8 billion in economic output, and, we believe, 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs in Ontario.
Ontario pork is sought after for its high quality and is exported all over the world. Over the last several years, Ontario-produced pork has reached over 60 international markets.
As we are an industry that exports roughly two-thirds of our domestic production, international market access is a cornerstone of economic success. An ASF outbreak would result in the immediate closure of our export markets to the international world. Ontario Pork is encouraged by and strongly supportive of the federal government's continued commitment to promoting market access. We have been active in reiterating our support for these important initiatives including the CPTPP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, or NAFTA 2.0 as I call it.
African swine fever is very contagious and highly deadly to pigs and wild boars in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, as you've already heard. Humans cannot catch ASF from infected pigs. They cannot contract the disease by eating meat from infected pigs, but humans can spread the disease and affect the pigs in many ways.
We are very thankful for the government's efforts to prevent African swine fever from impacting the industry and for the investment to increase the number of detector dogs at major ports of entry. Work still needs to be done to increase awareness among global travellers and industry with regard to foreign animal diseases and to identify the paths for the most efficient recovery of the industry should ASF be found in Canada.
Pork producers care about the health of their animals. Ontario Pork and industry stakeholders are founding members of what we call Swine Health Ontario, a leadership team committed to improving and coordinating the industry's ability to prevent, prepare for and respond to serious swine health threats in Ontario, working closely with our provincial government. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Swine Health Ontario have been partially activating their incident command structures to allow them to proceed with ASF planning and preparedness in an organized and collaborative fashion.
The incident command system allows for organizations to embed personnel into the other organizations' structures so that all are simultaneously in the know regarding which items are being worked on. Areas of key concern include the ability to rapidly establish disease control zones in Canada and to have those zones recognized by international partners. Traceability will play a key role in disease eradication. The PigTrace system, reporting tools, biosecurity and surveillance systems must be strengthened to ensure they support rapid zoning and the reopening of our export markets. Ontario Pork continues to promote PigTrace and the education of producers about the systems to ensure producers' buy-in in order to take advantage of the zoning agreements.
Ontario Pork has also developed AgManifest software that replaces the physical paperwork of the industry hog movement. This software has been developed to feed movement information into the PigTrace database via electronic means to assist producers and processors in being compliant with federal regulations related to the traceability of swine in this country.
AgManifest needs to be enhanced to allow the electronic creation, signing and storage of the annex 4, swine movement document, certifying our ractopamine-free status for our international markets. This is required to accompany all hog movement into federally inspected plants.
We continue to invest in traceability, biosecurity, extension and research; however, government support is needed. We would like funding to develop a PigTrace 2.0 and to enhance the AgManifest tool to allow for electronic record-keeping for hog movements. Focus, please, on developing a response and recovery strategy for our industry. We are certainly encouraging the signing of bilateral zoning agreements with key pork markets like Japan and South Korea. We are very appreciative that the agreement was signed last week with the U.S.
As part of Ontario pork industry actions to address risks, ongoing collaboration efforts by producers, industry stakeholders and the provincial government include partial activation of the Swine Health Ontario incident command centre, developing roles and responsibilities for the incident command centre team, and confirming planning subgroups, team leaders and memberships. We are currently having biweekly telephone conferences to share status reports from all subgroups and team leads. We've encouraged IMS 100 and IMS 200 training, and sessions were held in order to get everybody up to speed.
The development of a market interruption response plan will address the economic impacts of a foreign animal disease.
Ontario Pork has been consulting with the chief veterinarian for Ontario to discuss potential market interruption priorities and activities in three key areas, which are engaging federal processors and, potentially, provincial abattoirs in planning for a large-scale market interruption for Ontario; developing a communications plan; and developing an on-farm emergency plan for producers.
The Ontario hog industry advisory committee will be discussing the market interruption strategy at a meeting in June 2019.
In communications, several steps have been taken to raise awareness of the disease and prevention strategies, including the importance of traceability and strong biosecurity. A multi-faceted communications campaign was launched in the late fall of 2018, with an information package on ASF prevention and education being mailed to all registered producers. A follow-up mailing with more detailed prevention and preparedness resources was sent out to producers and processors in April. Through social media, Ontario Pork continues to share updates and information provided by the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency.
For our audiences beyond agriculture, Ontario Pork developed and shared information for the food service and restaurant industry about the dangers of providing food waste to pigs—