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Europe, Canada agree to ASF-free zones

Canada and the European Union have made zoning arrangements designed to facilitate trade in the event of an African swine fever outbreak.

Establishing zones will allow parts of the country free of ASF to continue exporting hogs even if hogs in other parts of the country are afflicted with the swine disease. Canada already has zoning agreements with the United States for the same reason.

ASF, a contagious viral swine disease with no cure or vaccine, has not been found in North America but it has spread rapidly in Asia and parts of Europe.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the European Commission’s Department of Health and Food Safety announced the arrangements earlier this month.

“Following the recently announced Canada/U.S. zoning arrangement, we have now reached a similar arrangement with the EU so that our farmers can continue to earn their livelihoods from the trade of pork and pork products in case ASF is found in Canada,” said federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau in a news release.

Zoning involves geographic boundaries defined as control zones to contain disease outbreaks. Areas outside those zones are considered free of disease and thus can continue trade.

“While there are zoning principles already in place with the EU that apply to ASF under the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the arrangement is an additional step forward in international collaboration in mitigating the risk of ASF, while maintaining safe trade,” the CFIA said.

Chief veterinary officer Jaspinder Kamal said the arrangement is evidence of continued co-operation with international partners to “mitigate the potential impacts of ASF on Canada’s economy.”

ASF continues to spread in other parts of the world. In a report distributed last week, the Community for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases said Vietnam has culled nearly 10 percent of its pig herd to contain an outbreak that has started to affect its industrial farms. Earlier outbreaks were in small household operations.

The same report indicated China’s ministry of agriculture website has listed three new ASF outbreaks since June 20. The illness has been spreading in China and millions of pigs have been culled as a result.

The scale of the outbreak in China and elsewhere has had global effects on trade.

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