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Analysis evaluates ASF risk through U.S. ports

Analysis evaluates ASF risk through U.S. ports
Soy-based feed ingredients entering from ASF-positive countries evaluated by U.S. seaports.

Feed ingredients imported into the U.S. from countries with known foreign animal disease risks, such as African swine fever (ASF), present a threat to the U.S. pork industry.

A recent analysis led by Gilbert Patterson of One Health Solution, VetNow, Canonsburg, Pa., quantified the entry of soy-based feed ingredients from ASF-positive countries into the U.S. via ocean freight shipping and associated seaports. Also involved in the work were Megan Niederwerder of Kansas State University and Dr. Gordon Spronk and Dr. Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services, Pipestone, Minn.

Knowing that the ASF virus (ASFV) can survive on soy-based products for 30 days, data from the International Trade Commission Harmonized Tariff Schedule website was used in conjunction with pivot tables to analyze imports of soy-based products across air, land and sea ports of entry from 43 ASFV-positive countries to the U.S. during 2018 and 2019.

In 2018, 104,366 metric tons of soy-based products, specifically conventional and organic soybean meal, soybeans, soybean oil cake and soybean oil were imported from these countries into the U.S. via seaports. The two largest suppliers were China, at 55,034 metric tons (52.7%), and the Ukraine, at 44,775 mt (42.9%).

In 2019, 73,331 mt entered the U.S., with 40,143 mt (54.7%) from the Ukraine and 6,182 mt (8.4%) from China.

Regarding the port of entry, 80.9-83.2% of soy-based imports from China entered the U.S. at the seaports of San Francisco, Cal., and Seattle, Wash., while 89.4-100% entered from the Ukraine via the seaports of New Orleans, La., and Charlotte, N.C.

Dee noted that it is imperative that swine feed ingredients imported into the U.S. from endemically infected countries be treated with increased scrutiny and caution. In fact, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely important, he said the industry's awareness of this risk would, in his opinion, be an 11.

The analysis builds on previous work done by Dee and Niederwerder related to virus transmission in feed ingredients. Dee explained that while it is known that soy-based products can be a carrier of foreign animal disease, until now, where that risk is the greatest had been relatively unknown. He used the analogy of a gun in that if you know where the gun is pointed, then you have a better understanding of where the bullets are coming from.

Given the volume of imported products and the vast number of seaports in the U.S., Dee said there is value in knowing where the risk of disease entry is the highest.

The analysis was focused on a country from Asia (China) and one from Eastern Europe (Ukraine). Regarding China, Dee said it was interesting to see the consistency of port of entry utilization and how imports of soy-based products decreased, particularly from 2018 to 2019. This, he said, was most likely the result of pressure from the U.S. industry. For instance, he said, of significant impact was a letter the National Pork Producers Council wrote to the U.S. secretary of agriculture, signed by all major pork-producing states, requesting assistance via the Animal Health Protection Act to prohibit soy-based imports from China.

In contrast, Dee said, seaport utilization involving Ukraine imports was inconsistent and volumes imported remained high.

Dee acknowledged that the analysis was not able to identify the end use of incoming soy-based products and whether the imported products ultimately ended up in the domestic swine supply chain.

Another variable at play in the analysis was the enormous, interconnected web that is the modern global trade network. Dee noted that because of the complexity, in some cases, it can be difficult to trace the true origin of trade products as they arrive on U.S. shores.

Overall, Dee said the analysis was successful and enhanced knowledge on the topic.

“We set out to answer four specific questions using a novel approach that gathered information that is important for the development of science-based feed biosecurity plans. While we focused on soya-based products and ASFV-positive countries, this same approach could be applied to multiple foreign trade commodities, which could assist in the development of both human and animal food safety protocols,” Dee said, adding that the hope is that these efforts will continue to stimulate communication and collaboration between the feed and livestock industries, resulting in further research into the emerging concept of “global feed biosecurity.”

Ideally, Dee said, current and future information on this topic will enhance the accuracy of risk assessments, drive the continual development of efficacious feed-based mitigation strategies and, ultimately, bring the health status of the country of origin to the forefront of philosophies regarding the global trade of feed ingredients.

The full paper, along with charts and graphs, can be found at

Watch for our upcoming podcast with Dr. Scott Dee on this topic, too.

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