ASF could cost US pork industry $8bn

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

US pork industry bands together on ASF
The US pork industry has warned that African Swine Fever (ASF) hitting the country could cost the industry up to $8bn in the first year alone.

Representatives from the pork sector met this week following the confirmation of a second case of ASF in China, to discuss ways of preventing it from reaching US shores.

The National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), have pledged to work even more closely together to help keep the US free of ASF and all other foreign animal diseases (FADs). This includes focusing on the importation of feed ingredients, a key area of potential high risk of disease transport.

Checkoff-funded research conducted after the porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) provided some peer-reviewed science to rely on when looking at ways to mitigate the current risk posed by ASF in China and other countries. This included work done on imported feed ingredients.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimated that losses from ASF could total as much as $8 billion for the pork industry in year one alone, which didn’t include related losses of $4bn and $1.5bn for the affected input commodities of corn and soybeans, respectively.

“Keeping trade-limiting foreign animal diseases, such as ASF, out of the United States is critical to pork producers,”​ said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board president and a producer from Alcester, South Dakota. “We all need to improve the overall level of FAD preparedness. We hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst.”

Paul Sundberg, DVM, director of the Swine Health Information Center, wanted to pay particular focus on feed threats.

“Research has demonstrated the ability for certain feed ingredients to support viral survival during conditions modelled after either trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific shipping to US ports and on to locations likely to manufacture feed for swine. For this reason, we want the entire US pork industry to look at this research and consider ways that it can help us prevent a FAD from entering this country through this route.”

The SHIC-funded research cited by Sundberg revealed that viruses had the potential to travel long distances via feed ingredients, which proved the theoretical ability of a foreign animal disease pathogen to reach US shores. To help prevent this potential risk from becoming a reality, swine industry experts have compiled questions for pig farmers to raise with their feed and feed ingredient suppliers with the objective of starting a dialogue about feed ingredient safety.

Aside from the specific feed-related questions to improve on-farm biosecurity, Dave Pyburn, DVM, vice-president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, advised producers to review the Foreign Animal Disease Checklist that is offered at pork.org/FAD. “By going through the items on this list, you can improve your biosecurity plan and prepare to register for the voluntary Secure Pork Supply plan (see securepork.org), which will help participants maintain business continuity in the event of a FAD,”​ he said.

Related topics: United States, China, Livestock, Pork

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