AgriTalk: Cooperation Critical to Keep African Swine Fever Out

African swine fever is threatening China's massive pork industry. ( MGN )

Cooperation between the U.S., Canada and Mexico to keep African swine fever (ASF) out of North American is critical, said Gordon Spronk, DVM, of Pipestone Veterinary Services. On Tuesday, Spronk told AgriTalk host Chip Flory that keeping ASF out is vitally important for the entire U.S. agriculture industry. 

“The economic hit the U.S. would take if ASF hits (or any foreign animal disease) will cost us billions,” Spronk said. “A third of our pork leaves ours borders right now. So that means that  one-third of our production would be exiting the business which means one-third less corn demand, one-third less soybean demand, one-third less DDDG demand, the entire barnyard would be impacted.”

ASF is not a new virus, it’s been around for nearly 100 years. It was first reported in Africa in the 1920s. However, when it entered the world’s largest hog herd in the world’s largest pork-consuming country last August, the game changed, Spronk said.

ASF was a highly discussed topic at last week’s National Pork Industry Forum and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting held in Orlando earlier this week.

Leadership at the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council, along with veterinarians, USDA staff and ag business leaders, have developed a plan which includes early identification and procedures, including the secure pork supply plan.

“We would immediately implement a plan to return back to the status that's so important to us – a negative status – because that's so important for international trade,” Spronk said. “So yes, there is a plan and it’s really a two-pronged approach. One, keep it out. Second, let’s be ready in case it does happen.”

If biosecurity is practiced properly to keep ASF out, Spronk believes the U.S. has a great opportunity to be the supplier of safe pork to the world.

“I’m sure glad that there are people like you and others in the hog industry that are coming up with preparedness plans to make sure we know how to deal with ASF going forward,” Flory said. 

Listen to the full audio report to hear more discussion about ASF and China.

More Articles on African Swine Fever with Spronk:

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Spain: The Economic Impact of African Swine Fever

7 Perspectives on African Swine Fever