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Plum Island: Protecting U.S. Pork

Pork Checkoff Plum Island Just off the eastern tip of New York’s Long Island is the Plum Island Animal Disease Center – a place that many pork producers may have heard of but few have stepped foot on, thanks to its remoteness and top-level security.

However, researchers travel daily to the 840-acre island to find solutions and safeguards to share with America’s livestock producers. Their mission is to help prevent a deadly foreign animal disease from devastating U.S. food animal production and America’s food security.

At the invitation of USDA and with the permission of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the island facilities, the Pork Checkoff’s Swine Health Committee visited Plum Island in July. The committee heard from some of the facility’s researchers, learned about the island’s history and even held its meeting in one of the facility’s meeting rooms.

“We were pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about the critical research and the researchers who work to protect the U.S. pork industry,” said Russ Nugent, incoming chair of the Swine Health Committee from Springdale, Ark. “This visit strengthened our working relationship with USDA and its research partners on our common goal of protecting the U.S. pork industry from devastating diseases such as foot-and-mouth.”

Checkoff Preps for a Foreign Animal Disease
Whether it’s investing in research projects, conducting table-top and communications drills or collaborating with industry and government partners, the Pork Checkoff is always preparing for the event of a foreign animal disease (FAD).

“A successful response to a FAD means putting into action all of the work that we do now to prepare,” said Dr. Patrick Webb, swine health director for the Pork Checkoff. “The objective after an outbreak is to get producers, regions and industries to resume normal production and the United States to regain FAD-free status as quickly as possible.”

The main goals following a FAD outbreak are to:

1) Detect, control and contain the FAD in animals as quickly as possible.
2) Eradicate the FAD using strategies that stabilize animal agriculture, the food supply and the economy and that protect public health.
3) Provide science- and risk-based approaches and systems facilitate business continuity for non-infected animals and non-contaminated animal products.

Are You Prepared on Your Farm?
The Pork Checkoff has created step-by-step guidelines on what to do on your farm if a FAD is confirmed in the United States. For this and other tools about FADs and biosecurity, go to pork.org. Just click on “Resources” and then “Swine Health.”

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