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IPVS - Record Attendance, Industry in the Doldrums

20 July 2010

CANADA - The International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress meeting opened in Vancouver on Monday (19 July) to a record attendance, whilst the domestic pig industry is under great pressure, writes ThePigSite editor, Jackie Linden.

In his welcome speech at the 21st IPVS Congress in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Congress president, Dr Ernest Sanford said that the event had drawn an attendance of 2,633 delegates from 66 countries – a record attendance for the IPVS.

The aim of the meeting, he said, was to find out about new scientific discoveries while enjoying an invigorating social programme. The meeting is being held in the Vancouver Convention center, opened just six months ago in time for the Winter Olympics in the city.

The theme of the Congress is 'Sharing Ideas, Advancing Pig Health', and from a record 1,168 abstracts submitted, 262 were accepted for oral presentation over the next three days, and 887 are to be presented as e-posters.

Giving an overview of the Canadian pig industry, Dr Sanford said that there have been many changes since Canada won its bid to hold the event in Copenhagen in 2006. At that time, there were around 1.6 million sows in Canada, producing 32 million slaughter pigs. Now, there are only 1.3 million sows and the 2010 forecast is for 24 million pigs to be produced this year. And the numbers are continuing to decline, he said.

The number of pigs exported to the US has halved from the 2006 level to today.

Dr Sanford put this decline down to five main factors. Firstly, he cited the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar particularly: from 62 Canadian cents to the US$ in 2005, it briefly exceeded parity in 2008 and has dropped only slightly since.

A second factor was the dramatic increase in feed grain prices two years ago as maize and other feedstuffs were diverted to ethanol production by an industry heavily subsidised by governments in many countries.

The introduction of 'Country of Origin' labelling (COOL) in the US also affected the export of Canadian pigs to its southern neighbour. Total Canadian exports fell by half and the number of slaughter pigs dropped 80 per cent as US producers and processors were reluctant to have any steps in the production chain outside their country.

The misnaming of the human H1N1 influenza pandemic as 'swine flu' by the popular media exacerbated the industry's problems.

And finally, Dr Sanford cited a general oversupply of the market hitting the Canadian pig industry especially hard.

He does not expect production levels to rise again to those achieved just four years ago.

Last but not least, Dr Sanford thanked the main sponsors of IPVS for their support: Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Intervet Schering Plough Animal Health, Merial, Novartis Animal Health and Pfizer Animal Health, as well as industry partners, Genetiporc, Harris Vaccines, Hypor, Janssen Animal Health, Newsham Choice Genetics, Uniferon and PIC.

ThePigSite News Desk



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