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African swine fever: 7 critical questions to ask your feed supplier

Industry experts have compiled seven critical points for pig farmers to raise with their feed and feed ingredient suppliers with the objective of starting a dialog about feed ingredient safety.

The focus is on feed when it comes to keeping the United States free of African swine fever. The National Pork Board, along with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the Swine Health Information Center and the USDA have joined forces to address the safe importation of feed ingredients and is urging producers to ask more questions of their feed suppliers.

“Keeping trade-limiting foreign animal diseases, such as ASF, out of the United States is critical to pork producers,” says Steve Rommereim, NPB president and a producer from Alcester, S.D. “We all need to improve the overall level of FAD preparedness. We hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst.”

Following Checkoff-funded research conducted after the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, experts say they now have some peer-reviewed science to rely on when looking at ways to mitigate the current risk posed by ASF in China and other countries. This includes work done on imported feed ingredients.

“Research has demonstrated the ability for certain feed ingredients to support viral survival during conditions modeled after either trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific shipping to U.S. ports and onto locations likely to manufacture feed for swine,” says Paul Sundberg, DVM, director of the SHIC. “For this reason, we want the entire U.S. pork industry to look at this research and consider ways that it can help us prevent an FAD from entering this country through this route.”

The SHIC-funded research cited by Sundberg shows that viruses do have the potential to travel long distances via feed ingredients, which proves the theoretical ability of a foreign animal disease pathogen to reach U.S. shores.

Industry experts have compiled seven critical points for pig farmers to raise with their feed and feed ingredient suppliers with the objective of starting a dialog about feed ingredient safety. The seven critical points to address were developed with review and input by the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota. Some areas of concern apply to producers’ immediate feed suppliers, while others only apply to feed ingredient suppliers.

1. Describe the facility’s biosecurity program to minimize the spread of pathogens from people, vehicles and ingredients.
2. Describe the facility’s employee training on feed safety.
3. Describe the facility’s pest control program.
4. Describe the facility’s traceability program.
5. Describe the facility’s supplier approval program.
6. Is the facility certified by a third-party certification body for food safety? Third-party certification programs may include the Feed Additives Manufacturers, the International Organization for Standardization, the Safe Quality Food, Safe Feed/Safe Food, etc.
7. Does the facility utilize ingredients that were manufactured or packaged outside of the United States?

To get a better handle on a particular farm’s risk of FAD transport via a feed ingredient, Sundberg advises producers to use the newly developed virus transport in feed ingredients decision tree matrix.

Aside from the specific feed-related questions to improve on-farm biosecurity, Dave Pyburn, DVM, vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, advises producers to review the Foreign Animal Disease Checklist.

“By going through the items on this list, you can improve your biosecurity plan and prepare to register for the voluntary Secure Pork Supply plan, which will help participants maintain business continuity in the event of an FAD,” he says.

This week a delegation from the NPB, NPPC, AASV, SHIC and USDA officials, including U.S. Chief Veterinary Officer Jack Shere, will convene in Washington, D.C., for a meeting hosted by the NPPC, in the hope that a collaborative effort will help protect America’s pig farmers and the entire industry from the current threat posed by ASF and all FADs.

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, losses from ASF could total as much as $8 billion for the pork industry in year one alone. That doesn’t include related losses of $4 billion and $1.5 billion for the affected input commodities of corn and soybeans, respectively.

Source: National Pork Board

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