U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA-03) and Rep. James Baird (R-IN-04) urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to prioritize agricultural inspections in an effort to prevent an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the U.S. swine herd.
In a letter to CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan, Axne and Baird called attention to the rapid spread of ASF in Europe and Asia and highlighted the threat the disease poses to the U.S. pork industry.
“Iowa leads the nation in pork production, raising nearly one-third of U.S. hogs. An ASF outbreak here at home would be devastating to Iowa’s pork industry, which is an economic driver and job creator across the state,” Axne said in the letter. “Our producers have taken steps to minimize risk wherever possible, but we need to ensure CBP bolsters measures to prevent the introduction of this infectious disease in the U.S.”
Baird said an outbreak of ASF would be devastating to communities and to the thousands of workers in his state of Indiana who depend on hog farming as a way of life.
If ASF hits the U.S., pig producers would not only lose a portion of their herd from the disease and culling, but they’d immediately lose their export opportunities, which account for 25% of sales for U.S pork producers, said Trent Thiele, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
“With no vaccine to contain and eradicate the disease – not to mention the long and costly recovery period that would follow an outbreak – prevention is our only defense and it begins with biosecurity at our borders. We appreciate all that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has done to respond to heightened ASF risk and urge them to continue bolstering agricultural inspections at our sea, land and airports,” said Dale Reicks, a pork producer from Lawler, Iowa, and member of the National Pork Producers Council’s board of directors.
ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease with no vaccine that affects hogs. It does not impact people and poses no food safety risks. For more information on the spread of ASF and how to prevent it, visit porkbusiness.com/ASF.
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