Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has continued to advocate for U.S. hog farmers, working with both Congress and the administration to ensure an uninterrupted supply of high-quality and affordable protein to America’s kitchens. While we work on stabilizing through this pandemic, NPPC remains focused on other top priorities for U.S. pork producers, including African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal disease prevention.
ASF, a swine-only disease with no human health or food safety risks, continues to spread throughout China and other parts of Asia. NPPC appreciates USDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) efforts to date to ensure the disease remains outside the country. In March, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach announced an ASF action plan should the disease be detected in the country.
Since early April, NPPC has met several times with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to discuss further actions needed should there be an ASF outbreak, including validation of oral fluids as a test to determine both negative and positive ASF-site status, efforts to pool samples for testing, and swabs and other alternate samples for diagnostic testing. Additionally, there have been conversations on the development of a surveillance plan within and outside a control zone, efforts to maximize the ability to determine the extent of an outbreak during a national stop-movement of pigs for 72 hours, and development of surveillance prior to an outbreak. NPPC will continue to work closely with the agency to ensure we’re prepared should there be an ASF outbreak.
Additionally, NPPC continues to work with CBP, which along with USDA, are our first line of defense to prevent ASF from entering the country. In March, President Trump signed into law legislation that authorized funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports, as well as 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams. NPPC continues to work with CBP to ensure sufficient funding on this effort and to date we have helped the agency receive an additional $19.6 million in the FY2020 budget.
Our ASF-prevention efforts aren’t just focused domestically. An ad-hoc group, coordinated by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has been created with the aim to help contain ASF outbreaks and manage risks to ensure business continuity. NPPC has been working with USDA to recommend participants for the group and provide further information to aid the effort. Issues discussed to date have related to zoning, compartmentalization and commodity-based trade that can be recognized by trading partners.
NPPC will continue to work with USDA, CBP and others to ensure ASF doesn’t enter the country, and maintain an open dialogue with our global partners to share information and prevent the spread of this swine-only disease.
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