The Obama administration announced Thursday that South Africa will open its market to U.S. pork, a move praised by the National Pork Producers Council, which has been working for a number of years with the governments in the United States and in Pretoria to lift a de facto ban on U.S. pork.
"NPPC applauds President Obama and our trade officials for bringing home the bacon for U.S. pork producers," said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. "We have been on the outside looking in as our competitors from Brazil, Canada and the European Union sell pork to South Africa. That country banned our pork using non-science-based restrictions that don't pass the red face test. Now that the barriers are falling, we have gained the opportunity to sell safe, high-quality and affordable U.S. pork to over 50 million new consumers."
NPPC has not yet seen the fine print of an agreement between the United States and South Africa but understands that some restrictions on U.S. pork may remain.
"While dropping the ban on U.S. pork is great progress," Prestage said, "there is no scientific reason to restrict any of our pork, so we'll continue to work with both governments to get complete access to the South African market."
South Africa's de facto ban on U.S. pork ostensibly was to prevent the spread of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) to South African livestock even though the risk of disease transmission from U.S. pork products was negligible. There is no documented scientific case of PRRS being transmitted to domestic livestock through imported pork. Prestage noted that New Zealand, a PRRS-free nation, imported pork for 10 years from PRRS-positive countries without getting the disease.