U.S. pork industry gets ‘real’ money to fight ASF

USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation dedicating $500 million to prevent and prepare for ASF.

October 1, 2021

3 Min Read
U.S. pork industry gets ‘real’ money to fight ASF

To paraphrase then-Vice President Biden, this is a big freakin’ deal.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is getting $500 million to prevent and prepare for African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease that would devastate the U.S. pork industry should it reach the United States.

Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack announced this week that funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation will be dedicated to fighting ASF. The CCC, a wholly-owned government corporation created in 1933, implements specific agricultural programs established by Congress and carries out other activities under the CCC Charter Act.

This funding is unprecedented both in terms of the amount committed to one animal disease and the money being provided upfront, even before we need to respond to the disease in the United States. And this happened because of the tireless efforts of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), working with Congress and USDA, to protect the country’s pork producers.

Ever since ASF began spreading through Asia in 2018, NPPC has been urging lawmakers and administration officials – in the Biden and Trump administrations – to prepare for the disease, asking for, among other things, additional U.S. agricultural inspectors, more staff for APHIS’s Veterinary Services, funds for APHIS’s Veterinary Stockpile for equipment to euthanize large numbers of hogs and additional washout facilities for trucks that transport livestock.

NPPC also has been educating U.S. pork producers about precautions they should take to protect the U.S. swine herd from the disease, including using caution when hosting on-farm visitors from ASF-positive regions of the world, reviewing biosecurity protocols to ensure consistent practice of appropriate safeguards and discussing with feed suppliers the origin of ingredients they are using in hog feed rations.

Of course, its biggest ask – and the heaviest lift – was for additional government funding to deal with the disease, which is not a threat to people but is highly contagious among hogs and has a nearly 100% mortality rate.

There was a greater sense of urgency about that following the recent detection of ASF in the Dominican Republic and in Haiti. It is the first time in 40 years the disease has been in the Western Hemisphere, and APHIS immediately took steps to stop the spread of ASF to the U.S. mainland and to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Those actions included asking the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to recognize Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a “protection zone,” which would allow the United States to continue exporting pork if either or both of the U.S. island territories got ASF.

APHIS also issued a stop movement order on all live swine, swine germplasm, swine products and swine byproducts from the U.S. territories. In the two weeks since, the agency’s Plant Protection and Quarantine program inspectors have seized 1,241 contraband animal products – 2,300 kilos – bound for the United States from Puerto Rico, including two seizures of products that originated from the island of Hispaniola. (The Dominican Republic and Haiti share that island.)

Under the leadership of Administrator Kevin Shea and Associate Administrator Jack Shere, who was tasked with focusing on the ASF threat, and with the strong support of NPPC and the U.S. pork industry, APHIS has pulled out the proverbial stops to address this serious disease.

With an infusion of $500 million – “real” money – it can help keep the United States ASF-free and, should the disease show up here, quickly contain and eradicate it. And that, too, would be a big freakin’ deal.

For additional information on ASF, visit www.nppc.org/asf.

Bob Acord is a consultant for the National Pork Producers Council and former USDA APHIS administrator.

Sources: Bob Acord, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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