USA, Washington. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauded additional measures announced today by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) to the United States. The risk of ASF – an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks – is growing as outbreaks continue throughout China and other parts of Asia.
“US pork producers are already facing headwinds in the form of trade disputes with key export markets; an outbreak of ASF would be devastating,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnston, Ohio. “With no available vaccine, prevention is our only defense. We thank Undersecretary Greg Ibach and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for strengthening safeguards to protect our animals and the rural economy.”
The ASF-prevention measures announced today by USDA include:
- Coordination with Customs and Border Patrol to expand:
- the “Beagle Brigade” by 60 new teams for a total of 179 beagle teams at key U.S. airports and sea ports.
- arrival screenings at key U.S. airports and sea ports, including checking cargo for illegal pork/pork products and ensuring travelers who pose an ASF risk receive secondary agricultural inspection.
- Ramped up inspections and enforcement of garbage feeding facilities to ensure fed garbage is cooked properly to prevent potential disease spread.
- Increased producer awareness, including importance of self-evaluations of on-farm biosecurity procedures.
- Research on accurate and reliable testing procedures to screen for the virus in grains, feeds and additives, and swine oral fluid samples.
- Collaboration with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American-coordinated approach to ASF defense, response and trade maintenance.
- Coordination with the US pork industry leadership to assure unified efforts to combat ASF.
Heimerl added, “These are good next steps. We look forward to continued dialogue with USDA to do all that we can to keep ASF and other animal diseases out of the United States.”