Anniversaries are usually cause for celebration — a wedding, a job, sobriety — but the global swine industry just passed the one-year mark since African swine fever was first reported in China on Aug. 3, 2018. I guess there is reason to celebrate a little, as the U.S. hog industry has so far been able to keep ASF at bay, even though it continues to spread throughout Asia and Eastern Europe.
The U.S. swine industry, through the collaborative efforts of the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center, has worked diligently and proactively with producers giving them the best tools to prevent and prepare for ASF hitting the U.S. herd.
It wasn’t that long ago the U.S. industry spoke in terms of if ASF got into our herd; but now that if leans more toward becoming when ASF strikes.
We can’t be brash enough to say that ASF will never hit our herd — there are far too many ways that it can get here — but we can do our best to hold off the virus for as long as possible. Then when it reaches our herd, U.S. producers should be prepared through participation in the Secure Pork Supply Plan to keep the impact of the disease at a minimum.
By now every U.S. hog producer should have participated in the voluntary SPS. If you haven’t yet developed a plan for your farm, what are you waiting for? When ASF, or another foreign animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease or classical swine fever, hits our herd, all movement of hogs will stop. By participating in the SPS, producers will stand a better chance of getting the hogs moving again, if it can be determined that their individual herd is healthy. Don’t wait to hear of a U.S. ASF infection to get your operation signed up for the SPS. As the saying goes, time is money, and that will definitely be true if your operation cannot prove that your hogs are indeed healthy enough to move.
As anniversaries roll around, it often is time to reflect on the year or years that have passed, and to measure how far we have come. The one-year anniversary of ASF grabbing global headlines offers U.S. producers an opportunity to keep the pressure on, doing their best on their own operation and convincing their neighbors that we all best be prepared for an ASF break.
Let’s hope that as the two-year mark, and subsequent anniversaries, of ASF being reported in China are marked, that U.S. producers are in the same spot as we are today — enjoying an ASF-free herd and watching from afar what the disease is doing to the global herd and markets.