I shared a copy of my presentation with the clerk earlier and I welcome this opportunity to address the committee. We appreciate the time and effort you're taking to meet with us and talk about this very serious disease.
I'm not going to go through all the details in my paper, but I'll try to highlight some things.
I want to emphasize what the CFIA just said here and to the media, and so on. PEDv is a disease of animals. It does not spread to human beings. It's not a food issue. We don't want people thinking they shouldn't be eating their pork chops, and so on. This is basically a disease, in the worst case, of baby pigs. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is between 80% and 100%. Essentially, the animals die of dehydration after very bad diarrhea.
The herd in Canada is essentially naive. That means there's no natural immunity to this. We don't have any antibiotics or treatment systems. The animals essentially die, and we have to deal with sick animals. Most of the older animals will recover. We're able to bring animals to the point of non-shedding, and so on, so they can be marketed.
Manitoba is the gateway to the west. We have about 340,000 sows in the province. We produce about 8 million pigs. We ship about 3 million or so to the United States and send the finished pigs—these are the big pigs—to processing plants in Manitoba. They're a big employer in the province, accounting for about 13,000 jobs, and so on. It's a critical industry.
The other thing is that we're connected directly, because of integration—it's a modern industry—with Saskatchewan and Alberta. When you think about it as a western Canada issue, we now have half the Canadian herd potentially affected by this disease. Because we ship so many weanlings to the United States, we're highly integrated into the U.S. pig production system. This disease has now become endemic in the United States.
We also differ from other parts of the country in that our barns are much larger than what you'll find in Ontario and Quebec, especially Ontario. We have 80 barns that house 80% of our sows. These are big operations. That has all kinds of implications for how we manage this disease, because it means there are large numbers of animals moving at any one moment in time between large operations.
We have a three-site system. We essentially have sow barns, nursery barns, and finisher barns. The three-site system was designed to try to minimize the amount of disease.
In 2013 this disease became endemic in the United States, or spread very rapidly. They had 300 cases a week, that sort of thing. They lost about 10 million pigs. No one really knows the real number. It had a major impact on their production and changed the market price. There was a shortage of pigs.
In Manitoba, prior to that we had engaged in a very in-depth upgrading of the biosecurity on our farms. We did extensive training with all producers and upgraded all our facilities on farms. There was special assistance from the federal government and the province through support programs to make this happen. Our industry, in turn, also upgraded things, like our wash stations, and so on. We have commercial-size livestock trailer washing operations, which are way ahead of any standard in North America.
Our board, when it saw this disease arrive, decided that we would aggressively prevent and eradicate any disease of this type entering into Manitoba. We've been very aggressive. We had 10 cases from 2014 to 2016 and were able to contain them. Nine of those cases have now been cleaned up, and one is almost at the point of being cleaned up.
Unfortunately, in 2017, since the beginning of May.... As of this morning we have two more cases, and we're up to about 22 cases now. These are all large operations. We're talking about 5,000 sows, large-scale nurseries with a capacity of 20,000, and so on.
In the paper I've described the measures we have taken. They're not pleasant; they're very hard on staff. We are running into problems in being able to contain this disease, to eradicate it, and to prevent it. There are specialized crews doing the washing. There are specialized crews doing the manure application because of the disease. In terms of the cases we now have, these 22, we're talking about 60 million gallons of liquid manure that is going to be diseased and that we have to dispose of and put on our farmland as fertilizer. We have to make sure that doesn't spread to other barns.
When you think about it, a thimble full of this disease could infect all the herd in western Canada. So we have some issues here that we have to deal with. Fortunately, in nature, the disease will degrade. If we can just get some breaks, some time here to let the barns settle down, the pigs will become non-shedding and we can get on top of this.
Regarding this trailer thing with the U.S., we have about 100 trailers a week go through the Emerson port of entry hauling pigs to the United States.
In 2014, we had a special pilot project to try to have those trailers that were going into the United States tagged at the border on their return and to go to these new, modern wash stations where we could probably clean and disinfect these things and prevent any contamination from the U.S. getting into the trailers.
What I want to portray here is that these trailers are like a little piece of Canada that goes across the border onto a U.S. farm. The pigs are chased out through a ramp into the feeder operation, and the doors are closed. We deliberately make sure there's no contamination of diseases from the United States getting into the trailer. We want to preserve that trailer—still a little piece of Canada—bring it across the border and clean it up in Canada, where we're able to contain the disease.
The disease is endemic in the United States. It's in all these wash stations. There is no certification process in the United States. We've met with their state veterinarians, and there is no regulation of their wash stations, and so on.
We, in Manitoba, can do that. We have the regulatory authority to enter into a trusted trucker program. We can certify these stations.
We're hoping that we can work something out with CFIA, as announced here. I want to emphasize that we're the gateway to western Canada. The other provinces, Saskatchewan and Alberta, are incredibly nervous about what's happening here. I was in Edmonton on Monday meeting with their councils, giving them an update of what's happening, and they're looking to us to try to get this thing contained and eradicated.