When the hog industry was undergoing rapid growth in the 1990’s and the early part of the last decade, the Atlantic Veterinary College was a hotbed of pork research.

The Charlottetown campus was home to the Atlantic Swine Research Partnership, which co-ordinated industry-led research throughout the region. However, as the sector went through a downturn that saw producers leave the industry in large numbers, the partnership fell by the wayside.

While he doubts swine research at the college would ever return to those glory days, Tim Seeber is hoping some research will take place in Charlottetown under a national program recently funded by seven provincial pork associations including the PEI Hog Board.

The $2.5 million from the provincial boards for Swine Innovation Porc will support activities within the research program Swine Cluster 2: Driving Results through Innovation, 2013-2018. Seeber, who is general manager of Island board, will be sitting on the national group that will decide how the funding is allocated.

“The vet college now has a new dean and a ten year funding agreement from the four Atlantic Provinces so they may be interested in applying for some projects,” Seeber said. “Right now, they aren’t much of a player when it comes to swine research.”

The other provincial organization signing the funding agreement were Alberta Pork, Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec, Manitoba Pork, New Brunswick Pork, Ontario Pork and Sask Pork.

“This funding signifies a national and collaborative approach in supporting research activities for the Canadian swine sector,” notes a release announcing the funding. “In addition, it will give Swine Innovation Porc the financial flexibility to quickly respond to emerging issues that directly affect swine producers in Canada, such as the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea concern. It will also be used in activities related to the transfer of technical knowledge, so that innovative technologies will reach pork producers at the farm level.”

At the beginning of 2014, Swine Innovation Porc was granted $13 million in funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as well as a contribution from industry partners. This additional amount from the provincial pork associations provides the research group with an overall budget of $17.3 million for the Swine Cluster 2 research program.

“This added financial support from the provincial associations will further the corporation’s ability to achieve its objectives as outlined in our mission statement,” said the chair of the research group.

Stewart Cressman said the research coordinating group is committed to providing national leadership in coordinating and facilitating research, knowledge transfer and commercialization initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the Canadian swine industry.

SIP is a corporation of the Canadian Pork Council (CPC), and council chair Jean-Guy Vincent added “Pork farmers from across Canada share the same abiding commitment to providing consumers a nutritious, safe and affordable food supply. I'm pleased that we have a common interest and commitment to support strategic research to enhance competitiveness, drive innovation, and promote the long-term growth and sustainability of the Canadian swine industry.”

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