Since the announcement Wednesday morning that the 2019 World Pork Expo has been canceled, the National Pork Producers Council has been fielding several questions regarding the decision and the potential for future expos to be canceled. In a recently released Frequently Asked Questions document, the NPPC has attempted to answer these as well as additional concerns about African swine fever.
ASF is not going away. What about WPX20?
That decision has not been made. As always, we’ll evaluate the event and plan accordingly.
Won’t the global ASF be worse next year?
We can’t speculate on that, but we do know that we take the next year to plan and implement additonal biosecurity measures.
Who conducted the evaluation that led to this decision?
NPPC relied on several experts, including veterinarians, an infectious disease expert, government officials, show managers and others to evaluate the situation and risks associated with holding World Pork Expo 2019.
How did input from your members influence this decision?
NPPC is a producer-led organization. Certainly, the board, principally made up of producers, listened to concerns from their fellow producers regarding ASF. Once again, the health of the U.S. swine herd and the livelihoods of the producers we represent are paramount.
Will the National Swine Registry swine show continue as planned?
Decisions for the NSR swine show are independent of those made by NPPC for WPX. The NSR hosts this event and therefore all questions surrounding the NSR show should be directed to them.
How could ASF spread to the United States?
ASF spreads through close contact with infected animals or their excretions, or through feeding uncooked contaminated meat to susceptible pigs. Given biosecurity measures at U.S. sea and airports, as well as those in place at WPX, it’s extremely unlikely that it would spread to the U.S. swine herd for reasons related to WPX.
What steps are being taken to prevent the spread of ASF to the United States?
USDA is committed to protecting U.S. agriculture from ASF and other animal diseases. It collaborates closely with NPPC, the National Pork Board, the Swine Health Information Center and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to protect the health of the U.S. swine herd. Recent actions include coordination with Customs and Border Patrol to expand the “Beagle Brigade” by 60 new teams for a total of 179 beagle teams at key U.S. airports and sea ports, and to increase arrival screenings at key U.S. airports and sea ports, including checking cargo for illegal pork/pork products and ensuring travelers who pose an ASF risk receive secondary agricultural inspections. Additional efforts include ramped up inspections and enforcement of garbage feeding facilities, increased producer awareness and on-farm biosecurity procedures, research on accurate and reliable testing procedures to screen for the virus in grains, feeds, additives and swine oral fluid samples and collaboration with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American-coordinated approach to ASF defense, response and trade maintenance.
In addition to the USDA’s efforts, this week the NPPC is also asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. CBP agriculture inspectors to further strengthen defenses against ASF.
Pork Checkoff: Caution must come first
On Wednesday afternoon, the National Pork Board offered a statement of support to the NPPC in making the decision to cancel the 2019 show.
“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” says Steve Rommereim, president of the NPB and a pig farmer from Alcester, S.D. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.”
The Pork Checkoff has been helping to inform producers’ response to ASF since it was first reported in China in August 2018. The fundamental purposes of the Checkoff are swine research, producer education and pork promotion. To that end, the organization has provided comprehensive information through a dedicated foreign animal disease web page.
Key materials on the page that every pig farmer need to know center on protecting their herd through following biosecurity principles and ensuring every pig farm has a defined Premises Identification Number, or PIN, which are fundamental to the U.S. pork industry’s Secure Pork Supply plan.
“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S. But any risk needs to be managed — and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board,” Rommereim says. “This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”