As I wrote in this space a couple months ago, I am here to remind you once again of the importance to have your hog operation prepared and protected against the evils that lurk.
Hog producers, who are also crop farmers have been, and some still are, preoccupied with harvesting the fall crop. Even with the prolonged crop harvest, there is no time for a letdown in protecting the swine herd. This is especially true with global news of the spread of African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases.
An FAD reaching the U.S. swine herd has become a matter of when and not if, and the swine industry, state and federal government officials, Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota have collaborated in the creation of the Secure Pork Supply Plan. The SPS is primarily funded by USDA, with additional funding by the Pork Checkoff. The SPS is a business continuity plan should an FAD reach the U.S. swine herd. Though it is a voluntary program, it would behoove producers to be involved so that their animal movement won’t be hindered if there is an infected herd in their vicinity.
The SPS website has all the information and resources a producer needs for participation in the plan. Dave Wright, Minnesota’s SPS Plan coordinator, is working with the University of Minnesota Swine Group in hosting several workshops around the state to familiarize producers with the plan, helping them work through “Seven Steps to Participate”.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with SecurePork.org
Step 2: Validate your premises; obtain a premises identification number; print a map from the internet using Google or Bing maps.
Step 3: Locate and compile records: Logbooks, Certificates of Veterinary Inspection and Standard Operating Procedures.
State animal health officials must be able to easily conduct a trace-back investigation in the event of an FAD outbreak.
Step 4: Enhanced Biosecurity Part 1 — Introducing the Biosecurity Plan Template
The SPS Plan requires a written enhanced biosecurity plan for each site. Remember that it is the producer’s responsibility to protect his or her herd by keeping the disease off the farm. It is the regulatory official’s responsibility to protect the U.S. herd by keeping the disease from spreading.
Step 5: Enhanced Biosecurity Part 2 — Create and label a Premises Map
A premises map is an important part of an enhanced biosecurity plan. It is a visual representation of the functional barriers in place to prevent the introduction of an FAD.
Step 6: Enhanced Biosecurity Part 3 — Biosecurity Protocols
Written biosecurity protocols are necessary to ensure accurate communication with all employees, visitors and delivery personnel.
Step 7: Foreign Animal Disease Training and Response.
It is important that all owners and employees can recognize clinical signs and lesions associated with swine FADs and understand the appropriate response if an FAD is suspected.
The steps outlined above are all good measures that should already be in place in modern hog enterprises, and it may simply be a matter of fine-tuning and organizing the information into an easily used and shared format.
As with any good plan, it is only best if shared with everyone who needs to be called to action. So, share your operation’s proper procedures with your entire staff and your suppliers so that everyone can be on the same page.
An FAD crisis in the U.S. swine industry will take a concerted effort to minimize and halt the spread of whatever pathogen may hit us. Do your part to make sure your link in the chain is secure.