Business & Policy
Hole in Biosecurity Blanket Getting Smaller
By Kristy Nudds
Several years ago, Dr. Jim Pettit of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC)
realized that there were “holes in the biosecurity blanket.”
One of these holes was identified as the service sector. Without a
coordinated or integrated biosecurity program among service providers,
a significant gap existed within the poultry industry’s biosecurity
Several years ago, Dr. Jim Pettit of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) realized that there were “holes in the biosecurity blanket.”
One of these holes was identified as the service sector. Without a coordinated or integrated biosecurity program among service providers, a significant gap existed within the poultry industry’s biosecurity practices.
Service providers travel between farms frequently and come in contact with both the birds and/or the facilities on-farm. Therefore, in their normal day-to-day activities, they are among the most likely potential sources of transmission of Foreign Animal Disease between flocks/herds for any disease which is carried by contaminants, such as dirt and fecal matter; on equipment such as vehicles, cages, cleaning gear and tools, and the animals themselves.
To address this issue, the Poultry Industry Disease Financial Risk Management Program (PIDFRMP) was created in October 2005. It is a pilot project designed for the poultry industry to develop improved, comprehensive biosecurity standards for several of the major services sectors. It is funded under the Private Sector Risk Management Partnership (PSRMP) Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The PIC contracted eBiz Professionals Inc. of Guelph, Ontario, a consulting company specializing in the Agriculture industry, to help with the project.
The first step was to identify the various service sectors. The Chicken Farmers of Ontario had identified 21 service groups, and from these, Ian Richardson of eBiz, project manager of the project, selected the following seven categories for the initial stage of the project:
* Catching Crews
* Truckers/Live-haul operators
* Feed suppliers
* Fuel suppliers
* Barn cleaners
* Power washers, manure haulers
* Processors (from gate to live receiving and back)
These groups operate across “all of the supply chain,” said Richardson. Representatives of each sector were asked to participate, and provide information and expertise. “We wanted to go to the people who work in the industry every day. We’ve had good cooperation from the service sector and we’ve been able to draw the program elements from their input,” said Richardson.
Richardson says that many parts of the service industry sector have no biosecurity program to follow, and some of these sectors are made up of many small players, often working locally and in informal relationships with the producers and processors.
When Richardson saw compiled data on where and how often in a day service sector representatives travel between farms and to the processor, the graphical representation of this was “striking, and really stuck out in my mind” he said.
The project process has included collecting and reviewing present procedures, performing a ‘walk-through’ of a typical farm visit, including preparation and cleanup. These were analyzed and drafts of potential new procedures are nearing completion. “It’s being built from the ground up,” said Richardson.
To date, the PIDFRM team has documented current practices for nearly all of the identified sectors, with the exception of barn cleaners, power washers and manure haulers, who will join the program in late June.
These standards are being reviewed by producer and processor groups to make sure they are practical and workable. When agreed upon by all parties involved, an implementation plan will be drafted.
Part of the project has involved ‘Perils Identification,’ said Richardson. Information has been gathered on the incidence and impact of poultry diseases, and has been compiled into a disease information chart.
Another project sideline has been developing an “Issues Log.” This deals with concerns the service sector has with respect to roadblocks and barriers, as well as the requirements necessary for biosecurity protocols to become a reality.
These include capital investment for the additional costs associated with changing and maintaining operating procedures for biosecurity. Examples of what is needed: wash-up areas for catching crews and drivers, catching fences need to be available at each farm, de-contamination of trailers and trucks leaving the processors yards, and biosecurity gear necessary during heightened security periods.
The information gathered from this project will be shared and expanded upon by the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council (OLPC) to improve biosecurity programs in all other participating livestock sectors. Knowledge will also be shared with other provinces.
The ultimate goal is to establish the insurability of the food agriculture industries by meeting the risk management requirements of the private sector insurers, in the hopes that these industries can receive some protection from the devastating financial losses caused by a Foreign Animal Disease outbreak or other similar crises.
Richardson noted that the avian influenza outbreak in British Columbia two years ago cost the industry nearly $400 million in losses, but only $70 million was reimbursed to producers by the federal government.
“It’s better for the industry to build the program itself,” said Richardson. “This way, the destiny is in our own hands, rather than waiting for the government to help us out.”