As pandemic fatigue begins to set in, one of the Canadian pork industry’s biggest threats is COVID-19 compliance complacency – failing to do the right things when we know better.
Be strong, do your part and tell others: Because it is important for you, your family, your workers, your farm, the entire industry and Canadian food security.
Recently, the Government of Alberta launched a public service campaign urging Albertans to remain vigilant. Now into our ninth month of battling COVID uncertainty, as case counts surge, it is important as ever for our industry to treat the matter seriously.
To date, much attention has been paid to the COVID-19 response by Canada’s meat processors. Packers have been working diligently with government health officials and workers’ union representatives to foster stability and reassurances, striking a balance between remaining operational while protecting workers. But what about producers?
Pork producers are expected to set the example of proper behaviour themselves and for barn workers by:
- Self-isolating and seeking testing if COVID symptoms are present
- Adhering to strict biosecurity protocols, not just during COVID, but always
- Wearing protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, to keep people and animals safe
- Routinely sanitizing common areas where workers congregate
- Practicing physical distancing as much as possible
- Taking care to observe public health guidelines, such as gathering restrictions
For the latest information, visit Alberta Pork’s COVID-19 resources for producers webpage.
Earlier this year, our industry was given a test, as supply chain challenges in eastern Canada and especially in the U.S. forced producers to stop shipping pigs to slaughterhouses, which also created hurdles at the production level. The short-term monetary blow to affected farmers was more than some could bear. In Canada, our unresolved pricing situation, irrespective of COVID, has placed many producers in poor financial standing as it is.
If any large western Canadian pork processor were to experience a partial or complete shutdown, devastation for producers and the entire industry could follow. As COVID cases continue to emerge within various meat processing plants across the country, certain segments of the public have indeed called for such shutdowns. As plant workers remain cautious of their work environment, barn workers too, understandably, may feel the same way.
In the age of social media, everyone has a platform from which to virtually speak and listen to the opinions of others. From politicians and doctors to doubters and outright conspiracy theorists, it matters little what any individual believes about COVID, the virus; the struggle is real, and it still threatens to topple our industry, which is worth $24 billion annually to the national economy.
Between the negative hog pricing situation, market volatility, trade tensions, barriers to conducting business, increased focus on hygiene and so many more factors, farmers have felt the intense pressure of this pandemic. But now is no time to concede victory to the virus; the Canadian pork value chain, in all its might, has fought hard to keep doing what it has always done: provide food for Canadians and the world.
Do you really want to gamble with your livelihood by failing to take precautions?