The USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has announced a joint project to develop a certification program for high-consequence swine diseases, including African swine fever and classical swine fever.
In coordination with the Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, APHIS will develop and implement a pilot ASF/CSF-Monitored Certification Program, which will be modeled after the basic tenets of the National Poultry Improvement Plan program for U.S. commercial poultry operations.
Both ASF and CSF pose tremendous threats to the pork industry if detected in the United States, APHIS says, and this pilot would provide a framework and support staff to further safeguard the industry by ensuring effective and active surveillance throughout the country and the ability to quickly zone infected areas, if disease were detected. The pilot also has the potential to provide assurances to trading partners and consumers about U.S. animal disease status, APHIS adds.
To develop the pilot, a team of technical advisers and subject matter experts from across the U.S. pork industry will assist in drafting program standards for consideration. A group of industry stakeholders and regulatory officials will review, amend and determine the standards to establish the program's content, direction and requirements for certification, according to the announcement.
When implemented, APHIS says the pilot will provide a forum for state and federal agencies, diagnostic laboratories and industry stakeholders to collaborate directly to establish regulatory and diagnostic priorities, creating a more efficient and engaged process and fostering greater engagement in national swine disease control efforts.
U.S. pork producers and packing facilities in participating states that meet specified program requirements will be able to enroll in the program on a voluntary basis. Through this project, APHIS says it will work to assess the potential for transitioning to a more formal ongoing national plan to certify the health of U.S. swine.
APHIS will provide updates on this pilot project after the initial standards have been drafted.