New National Swine Disease Council Launched

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The U.S. pork industry is working together to reduce the risk of foreign animal disease. National Pork Board vice president of science and technology Dr. David Pyburn outlines the new National Swine Disease Council in this edition of Pork Pod.


Don Wick


David Pyburn, Vice President of Science and Technology, National Pork Board




Don Wick: 00:15 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is Dr David Pyburn, vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board. And David, we are seeing the pork industry coming together to form a coalition to reduce the risk of foreign animal disease. Tell us about this new National Swine Disease Council.

David Pyburn: 00:33 Yeah. This council was really formed at the request of the producers in the industry themselves. Don, if you think back about five or six years ago now and to PED, when PED broke, the government very quickly said, “Hey, who speaks, who speaks for the industry? Who can we turn to to ask questions about how we might want to respond to this disease? And other future emerging diseases?”. And so the producers asked us, and the us is the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, Swine Health Information Center, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, to figure out how we could give some voice, some common voice for the industry to the government to ask these questions as they look to respond to either an emerging or a foreign animal disease. So it was something that we put together to enable the government to have somewhere to turn to, to speak with industry leaders, bounce their ideas as far as responding to disease issues off of those industry leaders, and also get recommendations from those industry leaders.

Don Wick: 01:35 Have we seen really the foundation work on this already accomplished? Or obviously there’s been a lot of efforts on the whole issue of foreign animal disease.

David Pyburn: 01:44 Yeah, the foundation work has been accomplished. We just, and there’s been a number of groups between the committees that we have at the National Pork Board and the Foreign Animal Disease Committee that American Association of Swine Veterinarians have and the work that the SHIC has done as well, and National Pork Producers Council. There’d been a lot of groundwork put together for this. But, there really wasn’t one central location where we could turn and tell USDA in the face of an outbreak, these are the folks that are there to have discussions with as far as what would be the best response for the industry, a workable response for the industry. And then also these same folks are the ones that can turn around and they can assist USDA with implementing that response in our industry and speaking to the benefits of a certain response to whatever the disease may be for the industry.

Don Wick: 02:33 These six groups, they’ve got a long history of working together already.

David Pyburn: 02:38 Yeah, that’s what’s great about our industry. We’ve been working together for years and years and you know, it was National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and American Association of Swine Veterinarians. And then, with the formation of the SHIC about four years ago, implement or they integrated right into that same group. It’s good that our producers have that, they have a number of organizations that are working on their behalf, but they can also come together to have that one voice when they need to for the industry.

Don Wick: 03:09 Certainly the headlines with African swine fever. What are some of the other diseases or concerns as you look into this, Dave?

David Pyburn: 03:16 Hey, let’s not ever forget about classical swine fever and foot and mouth disease. We were….everybody today is talking about ASF in Europe and ASF in China, but you got to remember that foot and mouth and classical swine fever also exists in China. So the same risk is there for those diseases. And they also, those diseases also exist in spots in Europe as well in other places on the globe. And beyond those big three foreign animal diseases, we’ve got to think about some of the diseases that we’ve eradicated here and we don’t want them to come back, such as pseudorabies. And there is a fairly virulent pseudorabies that’s running through China right now. And it’s another one that we’d want to keep out.

Don Wick: 03:57 What impact could a foreign animal disease, like those you mentioned, have on the US swine industry?

David Pyburn: 04:02 It would be devastating for our industry! Our industry depends on exports! And immediately in the face of an outbreak of any of those big three foreign animal diseases, we would see all exports stop! Dermot Hayes, an economist up at Iowa State University a few years ago, did a study looking at what the exact economic impact would be for our industry. And his estimate for an African swine fever outbreak would be that in the first year, this industry would lose $8 billion dollars. And that’s lost sales, mainly due to lost sales due to exports, that we don’t have in place after that disease like that breaks.

Don Wick: 04:39 So what’s the next step for this council?

David Pyburn: 04:44 The next step is for this council to start taking a look at the response mechanisms that are in place for USDA and start to prepare themselves if, in the face of a disease outbreak, if they would need to actually give some counsel to USDA or be able to provide input on behalf of the industry to USDA. This group has already, in fact, met once. They will be, have regularly scheduled calls and at least an annual meeting. And then of course in the face of an outbreak, if, when we do have an outbreak, they will very, very quickly need to come together, assess that outbreak and determine what would be some good response options for the pork industry.

David Pyburn: 05:27 Dr David Pyburn from the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit