Pork Producers Express Mixed Emotions About African Swine Fever

Although everyone can agree an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the U.S. would be disastrous, pork producers at the Illinois Pork Expo offered varying perspectives on the topic this week.

Mike Haag, past president of the Illinois Pork Producers and pig farmer from Emington, Ill., says the U.S. pork industry has been very proactive in its efforts to keep ASF out of the country.

“ASF is very concerning,” Haag told U.S. Farm Report host Tyne Morgan. “At this point, ASF in other countries has been beneficial to our U.S. pork industry from a demand standpoint, but if it ever comes on shore, it will be just the opposite. It will be devastating.”

Dereke Dunkirk, a pig farmer from Morrisonville, Ill., said ASF is concerning, but he is optimistic that the U.S. can keep ASF out of the country.

“I don't think it's inevitable,” Dunkirk told Morgan. “I think we do a pretty good job on our security protocols trying to keep it out of the country.”

Be prepared
The IPPA’s major message for producers at the Illinois Pork Expo was preparedness. In addition to implementing biosecurity practices, Haag encouraged producers to make sure their premise ID numbers are correct. 

“Make sure your addresses and locations of all your barns are correct. If we ever do get shut down because of a foreign animal disease, it’s extremely important to have that information correct because that’s how all the livestock will move throughout the state,” Haag said.

Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs at the National Pork Board, said verifying premise ID numbers is a critical first step in foreign animal disease preparedness and encouraged producers to take part in the Secure Pork Supply plan, a business continuity plan available to help support business continuity in the event of a foreign animal disease. The plan provides information and details for how producers can implement the program standards on their production site.

“You can go to pork.org to verify that the street address associated with your premises ID number matches with what is in your records for where the pigs are located,” Webb said. “If it doesn’t, call your state’s veterinarian and make those updates.”

Most people don’t have landline phones anymore, so in addition to updating site locations, it’s critical to make sure producers’ contact information is correct and includes updated e-mails as well, according to Sandra Gilmore, DVM, emergency programs coordinator for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Webb also encourages producers to get their site-specific biosecurity plans prepared and to be vigilant in surveillance efforts at their farm.

“Make sure your employees are trained on what to look for, how to do sampling, and how to report possible cases of ASF to their state veterinarian,” Webb said. “We offer training resources at securepork.org to help in the process.”

To learn more about foreign animal disease preparedness, visit pork.org/FAD.

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