Pork industry wary of ASF

Oct 1, 2021  | 4 min  | Ep4707

Two groups are making one more effort to delay California’s Proposition 12 - which is set to take effect three months from today. This week, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation made a plea that differs from one made by the North American Meat Institute and denied by the Supreme Court in June. ---

Pork industry leaders are also fighting a health battle against the deadly African Swine Fever which is now less than 1,000 miles away. 

Peter Tubbs reports on the efforts to keep ASF at bay. 

The American pork industry is on heightened alert for signs of a notorious pork disease.
The recent announcement that African Swine Fever has been discovered in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti has raised concerns that the pig disease could find its way to the United States.
Dr. Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health Programs, National Pork Board: “So ASF, classical swine fever, African swine fever, and foot and mouth disease, all can be transmitted through product that's contaminated with the virus. And so the way that we've seen it spread to the majority of countries has been through the feeding of garbage with meat containing plate waste that's got the virus in it.”
While the virus cannot spread to humans, it has a 100 percent mortality rate in hogs. Both the USDA and Customs officials have increased inspections of both pork entering the United States and travel checks of people entering the country from ASF hotspots. 
The habits of human handlers will mitigate the spread of the virus to new populations of pigs.
Dr. Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health Programs, National Pork Board: “and then the way it spreads is through bad biosecurity decisions. It's really a human spread issue. ASF really doesn't have a, uh, aerosol component like foot and mouth disease would. And so it's people moving pigs that are sick, are exposed. People who are feeding garbage, you know, those are the bad biosecurity decisions that move things around.”
While the federal government focuses on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever, hog producers in the United States should review their operations and procedures to prepare for an outbreak in the country.
Dr. Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health Programs, National Pork Board: “our producers have biosecurity plans. And so the first step go review that plan ensure compliance, focus on those things that are important to keeping diseases off the farm. And then it's really the focus on biosecurity, um, and awareness, make sure that you know, that your bio-security is plan is strong. And if you find weaknesses in it, improve,” 
Back in 2019, the World Pork Expo was called off in Iowa to limit transmission opportunities. Iowa is number one in U.S. pork production with more than 5,400 pig farms. When the World Pork Expo returned in summer of 2021, ASF was a topic of conversation among attendees and industry leadership. 
Chinese farmers were dealing with the ASF virus in 2018 and another round in 2021. 
Back in the U.S., 60,000 hog producers will need to evaluate their procedures to protect the nation’s 75 million hogs. The USDA announced this week a commitment of $500 million dollars to prevent African Swine Fever in the U.S. Some of the money announced will aid research efforts at a vaccine. 
Dr. Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health Programs, National Pork Board: “And the industry has been very, very supportive of the work that USDA and customs and border protection are doing currently to really double down on efforts to prevent it from getting to U.S. soil.”
For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.

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