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New resources raise awareness of deadly African swine fever

Freer Law/iStock/GettyImagesPlus swine with syringe and vaccine and broken wording of african swine fever

Following last week's bust when USDA-trained detector dogs sniffed out roughly 1 million pounds of pork smuggled from China -- a country dealing with African swine fever in every significant pork production province -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is sharing information about the importance of keeping ASF out of the United States. 

To help people learn more about this disease, as well as the steps that can be taken to help protect U.S. pigs, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has updated its web content with additional information and links to partners’ resources. This information is available at

Additionally, USDA is releasing four infographics on the following topics:

USDA is monitoring the recent outbreaks of ASF is Asia and Europe, and has proactively taken steps to increase our safeguarding efforts to keep the disease out of the United States. These steps include:

  • Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry, paying particular attention to cargo, passengers and products arriving from China and other ASF affected countries.
  • Increasing detector dog teams with CBP to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports (last week four new beagles, Chipper, Marlee, Chaze and Cardie, completed training and were placed at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago's O'Hare airports).
  • Collaborating with states, industry and producers to ensure everyone follows strict on-farm biosecurity protocols and best practices (including for garbage feeding in states where that is allowed).
  • Restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries.
  • Coordinating closely on response plans with the U.S. pork industry, producers and states to be ready should a detection ever occur in the United States.
  • Expanding the testing capabilities and testing capacity of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

USDA is committed to working with the swine industry, producers, other government agencies and neighboring countries to prevent the spread of ASF. USDA tracks animal disease outbreaks around the world and remains on high alert to protect farmers, consumers and natural resources from ASF or any foreign animal disease.

Source: USDA, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Missouri workshops urge producers to get Secure Pork Supply plans done

Laura Handke NHF-LauraHandke-MissouriBiosecurityWorkshops-1540.jpg
During breakout sessions, professionals from Smithfield Foods, Merck Animal Health, USDA APHIS and University of Missouri convened to discuss the prevention of African swine fever.

By Laura Handke
The state of Missouri recently held five biosecurity workshops to help veterinarians, food safety professionals and producers better understand, implement and communicate biosecurity measures and protocols. The full-day Preventing and Responding to Disease Outbreak workshops focused on a wide scope of topics from detection and quarantine to the economic implications of improving and maintaining biosecurity.

As the organizer of the series, Associate Extension professor, Teng Teeh Lim, shared that the goal of the workshops was to bring the different sectors of animal agriculture together in an open learning and sharing platform.

“We try to hit all levels—we try to get producers, company sales reps, directors, regulatory officials and different levels of practicing veterinarians,” says Lim.

Multi-agency presentations provided information relevant to many regulatory processes in both a review and update across all classes of livestock. Those agencies presenting included the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and academic professionals.

A central focus of the workshop was the discussion of Secure Food Supply plans and the steps involved in creating a plan. Attendees were provided a thumb drive with the different SFS plans preloaded and were encouraged to utilize the templates provided.

Corinne Bromfield, University of Missouri Extension swine veterinarian, asked the group, both during her presentation and again during the breakout session, to work with producers to help them develop a SFS plan, and specifically for pork producers, a Secure Pork Supply plan, stressing the importance of having a program in place.

“Participating in an SFS is completely voluntary, and we have plans for operations on pasture and in barns—there’s never a situation where there isn’t something we can do to enhance biosecurity,” Bromfield says. “And in the case of a national stop movement, having that data to show an official could mean the difference between being able to ship your livestock and continued non-movement.”

Smithfield Foods’ director of Production, Steve Brier, says the networking of information and updates provided by the workshop offered valuable information that he could take back to his team and production area as the Smithfield team continues to develop an SPS.

“Visiting with producers and veterinarians, hearing from regulatory people—everyone has a job to do, and we all want to do it right—we all have different experiences that we can share and add to the conversation. That’s where the value is in these workshops,” he says.

As a member of the National Pork Board’s African swine fever taskforce, Brier said that the conversation and information exchange at the workshop is typical of the what is happening in the industry right now.  

“Everybody is trying to get this figured out [African Swine Fever],” Brier says, “and honestly, I don’t think there is a tremendous amount of people that have their Secure Pork Supply and biosecurity plans completely done yet and implemented, and I think that we have to get those done so that we can have those examples of how others are making things work in their operation.” 

To find more information on the Secure Pork Supply plan visit:

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 19, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence will visit Nebraska today. Ag losses from flooding could top $1 billion.

For the 13th time in Illinois, a state police patrol car has been hit while stopped on the shoulder or at the scene of an accident.

The Brazilian soybean crop is nearly two-thirds harvested, ahead of average pace. 

Cold cases are intriguing. In Michigan, a 30-year-old murder has been solved. 

Republicans in Kansas are weiging if the Secretary of State would be a good candidate for U.S. Senator or governor of the state.

Photo: alffoto/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, March 19, 2019

Max Armstrong shares insight from devastating floods from eastern Nebraska and he offers answers to the question “what can we do?” There are two specific foundations he cites. The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation, around 50 years, has a range of programs from scholarships to research, And the more recently founded Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, at

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Techa Tungateja/iStock/Getty Images Plus

After flooding, nation sees why Midwest is called the Heartland

Getty Images News/Tim Boyle Sand bags hold back floodwaters

Farmers are strong. Farmers are resilient. Farmers endure.

I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. From the very start of our farming heritage, agrarians have shown strength not always necessary in other career paths. Today’s farmers are no “weaker” that their fore-farmers, even though they may no longer be required to daily heft hay and straw bales and pails of feed to take care of their livestock.

Machines have made jobs easier that once required a lot more brawn than brain. That does not mean that farming today is easy. Challenges continually face our farmers and rural areas, and the country’s midsection is once again taking a hit.

A brutal winter is giving way to a disastrous spring, as all that snow had to go somewhere, and the resulting water levels have wreaked havoc on farms, towns, rural infrastructure, anything in its way; swallowing and spitting out most in its path.

The result is farmers and their rural brethren are left to pick up the pieces in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and probably more states as the floodwaters move downstream.

There’s a reason the Midwest is called the Heartland — this is where the heart of the country beats. Just as one’s own heart gets taxed from being over-worked, the heart of the country is being taxed from just another burden thrown our way. Tariffs disrupt crop and meat exports. Blood pressure goes up. Disrupted exports mean lower prices for grains and pork and beef. BP up again. Urban neighbors and their fancy lawyers bring nuisance (but expensive and emotionally taxing) lawsuits, and the blood pressure collar is about to burst.

Now Mother Nature and her force bring massive snowfalls and resulting flooding. You start to wonder where is there hope in all this? Why keep going?

Because of heart. We have seen time and time again as a part of the country gets knocked down, friends from another region come in to help. Because of heart.

That is happening again, with neighbors helping neighbors, states helping states, regions helping regions. Because of heart.

Farmers, and rural people in general, have resiliency, and an innate ability to be kicked down (multiple times) and bounce right back up. Because of heart.

Just as some manmade structures of dams and levees eventually give way to the mounting pressure, some God-made men and women may also give way to all of these external pressures. You are not alone. Those neighbors reaching out to help you, they are also probably going through a flood of their own. Pride is a good thing to have, but don’t let it get in the way of you getting help, regardless if it’s financial help, physical help or emotional help. Don’t be afraid to accept help or to ask for help.

Every state has agencies or programs for you to turn to help you see the light through these dark days.

Refer to these two blogs from National Hog Farmer that can help you locate resources:

Managing stress: Step up for help

Stress isn’t seasonal for farmers and veterinarians

For those of you wishing to reach out and help those in need in Nebraska and Iowa, here’s a link to an Omaha World-Herald article with contact information for a multiple of outreach agencies and organizations.

We shall overcome whatever we face. Because of heart.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, March 18, 2019

Natural disasters are on Max's mind today as photos come in from Nebraska. Ethanol rail cars are stalled. And some loss of life has happened.

Today is the 94th anniversary of the most deadly tornado in American history.


Photo: Kat72/Getty Images

Illegal import activities must be met with swift, severe penalties

iStock/Getty Images Plus/tzahiV Customs-Border Protection sign

Since the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the interception of a large shipment of illegal pork products from China, the National Pork Producers Council has been in discussions with the agency regarding the seized product. The contraband shipment, which will be safely and securely destroyed in accordance with U.S. government policy, did not include fresh meat. 

Other important facts regarding the seizure are:

  • The one million pounds reported was an estimate based on the total amount of material that could be held in the 40-50 containers seized. It is not the actual amount of pork product.
  • Many of the products contained pork flavoring ingredients in items like ramen noodles and candy made from gelatin.
  • The confiscated product will be incinerated. It will not be tested.

The NPPC issued the following statement.

“Preventing the spread of African swine fever to the United States is our top priority. We are thankful to CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their increased vigilance and the expanded resources they have put in place to prevent ASF’s spread to the United States, a development that would threaten animal health and immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds.

“Illegal import/export activities like this can’t stand and must be met with swift and severe penalties to discourage others from attempting to transport contraband products across our borders. Prevention of ASF is our only defense; we must remain on high alert at our airports and sea ports to prevent the illegal entry of meat products and be diligent in our farm biosecurity protocols. We are hopeful that others considering illegal import/export activity like this will take note of the severe consequences.

“Along with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board and the Swine Health Information Center, NPPC continues to work closely with U.S. government officials to strengthen safeguards against the spread of ASF and other animal diseases.”

Source: National Pork Producers Council, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Diericks receives The Maschhoffs 2019 Core Values award

The Maschhoffs Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs notes Diericks embodies the company's Core Values.
From left: Rich Hollis, vice president of People Strategy, Ian Brooke, director of Production, Melissa Diericks, farm manager, Scott Stehlik, general manager of Tech Ops, and Bradley Wolter, president.

The Maschhoffs recently honored a farm manager who is committed to her team and embraces the company's Core Values every day. This year's recipient of the company's Core Values award is Melissa Diericks.

Scott Stehlik, general manager of the Technical Operations Region, notes that Diericks has gone above and beyond in her duties, which includes the management of two sow farms in the Louisville, Ill. area. Her farm’s production metrics are outstanding, which is a direct result of her leadership in teaching and training her team to provide excellent pig care. Just as important, her commitment to people is a shining example for the entire company.

“Melissa believes in training her team, allowing for individual ownership, and ensuring accountability to expectations,” Stehlik sayss. “She conducts monthly biosecurity and safety walks around her farm looking for gaps and opportunities to make the farm better and safer for people and pigs.”

In addition to her people and pig excellence, Diericks has led a number of community outreach projects in the Louisville area. “She has taken it upon herself to give back to the local community in a selfless manner that promotes team engagement and philanthropy,” Stehlik says. “She truly represents the Tech Ops’ philosophy of ‘People Caring About People.’ We are lucky to have her as a member of the Tech Ops team!”

Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs notes Diericks embodies the company's Core Values, which are:

  • PEOPLE AND PARTNERS: We value and respect our employees and partners.
  • GOOD ANIMAL HUSBANDRY & SUSTAINABILITY: We are committed to providing the best care of our animals and nature's resources.
  • INNOVATION: We are dedicated to business innovation and continued improvement through knowledge and discipline.
  • CUSTOMER FOCUS: We strive to continually exceed the expectations of our customers.

Each year, The Maschhoffs recognizes a team member for living the company’s Core Values in his/her daily actions

“Melissa’s actions and behaviors reinforce those Core Values each and every day,” Wolter says. “Melissa is a passionate farm manager who is a phenomenal teacher and leader, not just for her team, but for the entire company.”

Source: The Maschhoffs, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


National Pork Board to pilot blockchain technology

peshkov/iStock/Getty Plus Images Block Chain Food Safety

The National Pork Board has entered into an agreement with an agritech startup to test out blockchain technology use in the U.S. pork industry. Through this partnership, will enable an ecosystem that will allow pork producers to monitor, evaluate and continuously improve their sustainability practices based on the We Care framework.

“The growing demand across the entire food supply chain – including end consumers – is to ‘Know Your Food.’ The platform generates powerful levels of transparency and trust by enabling collaboration and consensus of data and activities within food systems,” says Raja Ramachandran, co-founder of “Through blockchain, customers like the National Pork Board can enable its organization and members to create shared, immutable trusted records that address critical food issues such as sustainability, quality, traceability, waste and fraud.”

Working with, the National Pork Board will demonstrate to its producers the value of having a responsible supply chain by consolidating sustainability data and activities gathered on the platform. This platform will highlight how pork producers create a sustainable pork production environment. In addition, through a distributed permissioned ledger, this program data can be visible to partners in the ecosystem to ensure valid certifications. The data remains anonymous in order to create a benchmark indicator for each ethical principle.

“Over the last 50 years, America’s pig farmers have followed the We Care principles to produce a product that has become increasingly sustainable using 75% less land, 25% less water and 7% less energy,” says Brett Kaysen, assistant vice president of sustainability at the National Pork Board. “We look forward to working with to use blockchain technology to record proof points through a system that can benchmark performance while increasing transparency of the entire pork value chain.”

Source: National Pork Board, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 18, 2019

One-third of the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska is under water due to flooding. 

The National Weather Service issues flood warnings for the Missouri River from South Dakota to Missouri.

A Nebraska farmer fell in the water after a bridge gave way. 

A Kansas DOT employee was fired after a tweet about Donald Trump.

Spring officially arrives Wednesday. And so do tornadoes.


Photo: KSwinicki/Getty Images