U.S., Canada, Mexico Unite to Stop African Swine Fever at the Borders

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Despite not having a signed U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) yet, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are uniting to keep African swine fever (ASF) out of North America’s borders. 

“Sharing the long borders that we do both on the north and south, it’s important that we function together as one,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at the USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum on Thursday, where he shared a stage with Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos Arambula.

ASF continues to ravage across China and eastern Europe. On Tuesday, authorities announced the disease had spread to neighboring Vietnam

“All the things that go on in a very mobile world today will only increase the likelihood of things transferring from one nation to another,” Perdue said. “We are committing even further, based on the most recent African swine fever, to up our game.”

MacAulay said Canada is raising fines for those caught illegally importing meat.

“This type of thing is so vitally important because it takes one (case) to cost us billions of dollars,” MacAulay said. “I hope we can deal with this issue not after it comes, but before it comes.”

Market Impacts
If ASF were to reach the U.S., it could curb shipments in the $6.5 billion export market for American pork at a time when the industry is already reeling from the impact of trade disputes with China and Mexico, Reuters reported.  

News of the disease spread in Asia has lifted CME Group lean hog futures at times, as traders consider the potential for improved U.S. pork exports to China.

The USDA’s chief economist, Robert Johansson, said prospects for U.S. pork producers to export more to Asia to compensate for hogs culled due to the disease may be overstated.

According to Johansson, a plentiful supply in the U.S. would drop hog prices 7.5% in 2019.

“USDA sees carryovers falling in 2019-20 vs 2018-19 for corn, soybeans and wheat, but rising sharply for cotton,” said Jim Wiesemeyer of ProFarmer. “U.S. beef, pork and broiler production is seen up from 2018. U.S. commercial pork production continues to expand at a record 27.34 billion pounds, up 4% from 2018. Pork exports are forecast at 6.30 billion pounds, up 6% over 2018. The 51% to 52% lean live equivalent price is seen at $41 to $44 per cwt.”

African Swine Fever Transmission
ASF is not harmful to humans, but it is deadly for pigs. There is no vaccine for the disease and transmission can occur in many ways, including direct contact between animals, through contaminated pork and pork products, through feed and by people contaminated with the virus traveling from one place to another.

A recent Kansas State study confirms that African swine fever can be easily transmitted through the natural consumption of contaminated feed and liquid. This study emphasizes the critical need for feed biosecurity in the swine industry. 

Research from Dr. Diego Diel of South Dakota State University and Dr. Scott Dee of Pipestone Applied Research and sponsored by the Swine Health Information Center shows that specific feed additives have the potential to reduce viral contamination levels in feed. 

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