USDA Details African Swine Fever Plans

Halting Swine Movement Among USDA Actions if ASF Were Detected

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The U.S. would halt all movement of swine for at least 72 hours if African swine fever were detected in the U.S. The disease has caused China to greatly reduce its pork production due to the loss of hogs to the disease. USDA officials stress they are doing everything they can to keep ASF out of North America. (DTN file photo by Pamela Smith)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The Agriculture Department would stop the movement of all swine for 72 hours if there is a detection of the African swine fever (ASF) in the United States, Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach announced Friday.

ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs that has not been detected in the U.S. ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.

"First and foremost, USDA is committed to doing all it can to prevent ASF from entering the U.S. and we greatly appreciate the pork industry's vigilance and partnership in this successful effort thus far," Ibach said at the Pork Forum in Kansas City. "However, the additional measures I am announcing today will strengthen our ability to quickly and effectively respond to the disease if detected here at home."

ASF has decimated China's domestic swine herd since fall 2018 with as much as 40% of swine culled because of the disease. The devastation has caused pork exports to China to soar to fill some of the protein void caused by losing such a large share of the country's swine herd. Just last week, Chinese officials stated they have developed a swine fever vaccine that produced successful results in laboratory testing.

Ibach said USDA is prepared to implement the following measures to help ensure an immediate and effective response if ASF is detected in the U.S.:

-- The secretary would immediately take necessary steps to declare an "extraordinary emergency" establishing USDA as the leader of a coordinated national approach to control and eradication, and ensuring the availability of funding and additional resources. 

-- USDA would issue a national standstill of at least 72 hours to prohibit all movement of swine, increasing USDA's ability to stop disease spread and to act quickly to restore movement on a regionalized basis.

-- For the depopulation of infected and exposed animals, USDA would work with states and industry to use the most efficient and effective depopulation methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association that are appropriate for the affected premises.

-- To prevent virus from leaving infected premises, USDA will work proactively with industry and states to ensure producers have herd plans to deal with carcass disposal in line with regional and local requirements, supporting composting and burial in place as preferred options.

-- To reduce paperwork, USDA plans to pay for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of affected premises, Ibach added.

"ASF is epidemiologically similar to foot-and-mouth disease, and USDA's system of overlapping safeguards and prevention efforts have been successful against that disease for over 90 years now," said Ibach. "We remain confident those efforts will provide the same protections against ASF."

"We are grateful to [Agriculture] Secretary [Sonny] Perdue and Undersecretary Ibach for hearing the concerns of U.S. pork producers," said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "We remain committed to working with the USDA and Customs and Border Protection to keep ASF out of the United States."

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service -- African Swine Fever (ASF): https://www.aphis.usda.gov/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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Jerry Hagstrom