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African swine fever practice that’s hopefully unnecessary

Exercises scheduled for Sept 23-26 will allow animal health officials to practice response plans for an ASF outbreak in the United States.

Insurance is pretty much a necessity in one’s life. We buy home, auto and health insurance in the hopes of never having to use it. We buy life insurance to hopefully leave something for those we will leave behind when we meet our demise.

Though we hope we never have a need for insurance, we still pay the regular premiums just in case that need arises and will aid in the recovery from a calamity.

Hog producers have long known the importance of practicing top biosecurity measures, implementing such procedures that will prevent our herds from becoming infected with the virus du jour.

Ever since African swine fever was first reported in China just over a year ago, the U.S. pork industry has been put on high alert learning how to prevent ASF from getting here as well as preparing for the possibility that it does reach our shores.

On that note, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services National Training and Exercise Program is sponsoring a series of exercises in a couple weeks for the top 14 swine producing states to further their capacity to effectively respond to and mitigate an ASF outbreak.

These exercises are scheduled for Sept 23-26, and will allow animal health officials, such as the state veterinarian’s office, to run a practice of their response plans for an ASF outbreak in the United States. These exercises are designed to be unique activities targeting key areas of ASF response and mitigation. Each of the 14 states will participate from their departmental operations centers, or equivalent; they will initiate the appropriate scale of the Incident Command System, as designated in their response plans, and they will deploy field personnel as needed.

Though these exercises are intended for each state’s animal health officials, anyone interested is welcomed to participate in the four specific exercises:

  • Sept. 23: Foreign Animal Disease Investigation and Diagnostic Testing
  • Sept. 24: 72-Hour Movement Standstill and Communications
  • Sept. 25: Depopulation and Disposal
  • Sept. 26: Movement Permits

Participating states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas. Animal health officials in each state, as well as each state’s pork producer association can provide information on how to participate in your respective state.

For a closer look at what will be going on each of the four days, take a look at this FAQ document from the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Each state will be having specific exercises, and it is best to check with the animal health officials in your respective state to see what is being done to make sure your swine industry is best prepared. For example, three farms in Iowa and two packers will be using their farms and packing plants as real-life examples in the exercise, with officials from the USDA and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also participating.

You know what you are doing on your farms, but it’s also good to see that other entities are taking the threat of ASF seriously. At times farmers can feel as though they are on an island, feeding the world without the world giving a care. Other agencies are stepping up to be prepared in case, just in case, ASF does make into hog herds.

Hopefully, these are measures that are simply being practiced, without the need to ever have them implemented.

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