P.E.I. hog producers asked for government help a month ago to assist with increased safety and sanitation measures to prevent a deadly pig virus from infecting the province. There was no response until a case was confirmed on the Island last week and then the province came up with $115,000. One could argue it was a case of too little too late, but there is no assurance that provincial aid a month ago would have stopped the virus at our borders. If, as suspected, the virus did come through contaminated feed, little could be done to stop the virus.
Still, it is unfortunate that government waited until the disease appeared here instead of being proactive and assisting producers with preventive, biosecurity measures a month ago.
Record low prices and the closure of the hog plant in Sherwood forced scores of producers out of the industry until only approximately 25 remain in operation today. Just as the industry was starting to recover, this lethal virus has arrived.
P.E.I. producers had already redoubled their safety efforts when word spread the virus had showed up in Canada late last fall. Confirmation of the virus at one P.E.I. farm encouraged producers to further increase those already stringent biosecurity measures. The virus is harmless to humans, saving its lethal blow for small piglets. But there will be a natural avoidance of pork until the situation clears, further adding to the plight of producers.