Organizations Unite to Protect U.S. From African Swine Fever

Pork industry to take necessary actions in keeping nation’s livestock safe
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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Pig Teaser
Millions of pigs have been depopulated around the globe because of the highly contagious African swine fever.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Pork Board (NPB) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) are joining forces to safeguard the nation's pork supply. Announced at the February NASDA Winter Policy Conference, the new partnership aims to enhance coordination and preparedness to prevent and protect the United States from African swine fever, a deadly pig disease that could cripple the entire agricultural sector with long-lasting ramifications for the economic viability of U.S. livestock production.

African swine fever continues to spread in Russia and most of Europe and Asia. Since January 2021 it has been reported as present in 41 countries, affecting more than 828,000 pigs and more than 23,000 wild boar with more than 1 million animal losses, according to World Organization for Animal Health.African swine fever has not currently crossed the U.S. border but being prepared to respond and coordinate on local, state and national prevention methods better ensures the protection of America’s swine.

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The enhanced partnership between the four entities will allow for the most effective harmonization of federal and state response plans to enable producers to prevent, plan and recover from highly contagious African swine fever outbreaks, as well as encourage industry preparation for future outbreaks and disease response in other livestock sectors. The only way to stop African swine fever is through proper preparation and mitigation efforts as there is no cure.

“When you bring together state, federal and industry groups with different strengths to take on challenges, you see a united force of resilience across all fronts,” said Ted McKinney, CEO of Arlington, Va.-based NASDA. “Our four organizations together will be able to coordinate strategies for animal disease preparedness and response, on not just one level but on local, state and federal levels. This type of collaboration will lead to better response to outbreaks, and, ultimately, to better animal health and welfare across the U.S. We’re thrilled to be joining this effort.”

Washington D.C.-based USDA is also pleased with this new effort. “USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reacted swiftly when African swine fever was detected in the Western Hemisphere in 2021 and continues to be at the forefront of safeguarding U.S. pork producers,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “Keeping African swine fever out of the U.S. takes attention from all of us. USDA continues to seek opportunities to expand collaboration to prevent the introduction of ASF and strengthen our domestic preparedness.”

NPB is looking forward to bringing subject matter expertise to this partnership that can help support science-based decision-making. “One of the industry ASF [African swine fever] priorities is giving producers the information they need to prepare for response. We view this partnership as one way to do that, by bringing forward key information from the state departments of agriculture that producers need to know, as well as making sure state partners understand the Checkoff-funded tools and research available to help producers prepare and respond to foreign animal disease,” said Dr. Dusty Oedekoven, chief veterinarian at Des Moines, Iowa-based NPB.

“We all play an important role in keeping American agriculture safe, and working together enhances our ongoing efforts to prepare, prevent and mitigate potential foreign animal disease outbreaks in the United States,” said Terry Wolters, president of Urbandale, Iowa-based NPPC and owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minn.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Feb. 28 another case of African swine fever in farm pigs in east Germany. It was reported on a small farm with 11 animals in the eastern state of Brandenburg, the state's health ministry said. All 11 animals were slaughtered as a precaution, it said.

Since it’s not contagious to humans, African swine fever is reportedly not a threat to human health or food safety.

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