The Canadian pork producer whose hogs were quarantined after it was discovered they were infected by the Type A H1N1 influenza virus has culled his entire herd. Despite the safety of pork products, the Central Alberta producer had no market for his hogs even though officials such as the World Health Organization have confirmed that the meat from animals who have recovered from Type A H1N1 is safe to eat,

Arnold Van Ginkel, who farms near Rocky Mountain House, made a business decision to cull the animals based on the fact that the disease remains present in his herd. The quarantine implemented by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency meant that no animals from the farm could be marketed until testing showed that the virus is no longer present in the herd and all animals are healthy.

The declining presence of Type A H1N1 meant the CFIA quarantine would remain in place for the foreseeable future. Not being able to market any animals meant that Van Ginkel faced with having to conduct a second partial cull for animal welfare reasons due to overcrowding. He decided to proceed with a full cull of his herd and move forward.

"I am disappointed that I have to cull these animals but the presence of the Type A H1N1 virus in my herd left me with few options," said Van Ginkel. "With the quarantine still in place, I was facing another partial cull due to overcrowding and no prospects for marketing my animals once they were given a clean bill of health. The only real option left was to have a complete cull and end the uncertainty for my farm and for the entire pork industry."

"Alberta's pork producers support the decision by Mr. Van Ginkel to cull these animals, it is his farm and his business decision," said Paul Hodgman, executive director of Alberta Pork. "Although not common, it is not unusual for swine producers to cull their entire herd in order to eradicate diseases and start fresh with a new swine herd."

A cull at the farrow-to-finish operation took place with the presence of federal and provincial animal-health experts and animal-welfare officials. Officials assisted the producer by ensuring the cull occurred using humane methods and that precautions to protect animal and human health were taken. All animal carcasses were safely disposed of in accordance with government requirements. No meat or pork products will enter the human-food or animal-feed chain.

Van Ginkel will apply to government for financial assistance under the existing AgriRecovery and AgriStability programs to address losses associated with the culling of his animals, the costs of cleaning and disinfecting his operation and the time he is out of production.

Van Ginkel added, "We came to Alberta from Holland for a chance to start a new life and this entire event has been extremely stressful for my family. We will now need to start over and build a future for our family. I ask that the media and the public respect our privacy as we take the next few weeks to recover from this ordeal."

Source: Alberta Pork