What would happen if you couldn’t move pigs for a week or two? A foreign animal disease could impact pig movement. National Pork Board director of animal health programs Patrick Webb has details on the Secure Pork Supply in this edition of PorkPod.
Dr. Patrick Webb, Director Swine Health Programs, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:04 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 Patrick Webb, who is the Director of Animal Science for the National Pork Board. Pork Board, part of a working group dealing with foreign animal diseases. They had a recent meeting and are working on such things as Classical Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth Diseases, certainly key issues for the pork industry. Patrick, from producer perspective, what should they know?
Patrick Webb: 00:45 In the world today, there are certain diseases that we do not have here in the United States that have a regulatory component, that would disrupt commerce and trade for those species that would be affected by the disease. And in the pork world, that’s Foot and Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever and African Swine Fever. And we’ve been blessed that we haven’t had those diseases for a long, long time. Foot and Mouth was eradicated in 1929. Classical Swine Fever in the seventies and we’ve never had African Swine Fever. But at the international level and the federal level and the state level, those diseases are considered reportable and result in certain actions that would occur. So, you know, pork industry is driving significant value from trade. Well, if we went from exporting 28 percent of pork production to exporting zero, it would obviously hit us financially very hard. But then the other thing that occurs is that you end up with disease control measures that are implemented in states that have, you know, confirmed positive cases of the disease. And so operationally what that means to a pork producer, if you’re one of the unlucky pork producers that fall within what they call a disease control area, that could significantly disrupt your ability to actually do business as a pork producer and be able to move your pigs for production and even move them to harvest for a period of time.
Don Wick: 00:45 How would that impact those producers?
Patrick Webb: 02:12 Well, so in the regulatory world, there are plans that are written for each of those diseases, and the states have plans, as well as the federal plans, and even industry has had some plans that are based on those. So we all have these interlocking plans, but we know who’s in charge and that would be your state animal health official, your state vet’s office and there are federal counterparts and the area directors for veterinary services for USDA. And you know, the plans are pretty straight forward in that you have to implement disease control measures. And so one of the first things that, that they have to do is figure out where folks are. And so that’s the importance of making sure that we have our premises registered because that, in essence, is our 911 address for our state animal health officials to know that, you know, this site actually has livestock and here’s how you can contact those folks that have livestock on that site.
Patrick Webb: 03:03 Thus the importance of the industry’s emphasis on premises registration over the years, you know, the pork industry is, our commercial industry has adopted premises registration. So that’s a good preparedness piece there. But once the state vets kind of figure out who’s in the area, then you have to go in and you kind of have to assign a status to them. And so, you know, if you’re one of the unlucky producers that actually has the disease, you’re actually going to have more people trying to help you out from a state and federal perspective than those that are in the disease control area that don’t have the disease. So people that, you know, their sites are infected or there’s a direct link between the site and another site with production and those sites are linked enough that you think there is some contact there. You know, those folks will have to undergo certain things that will be implemented by the animal health professionals to prevent a disease from spreading.
Patrick Webb: 03:57 And that could be euthanasia those animals, humane euthanasia of those animals, depopulation, and disposal. It really boils down to what’s going on with the outbreak, how big the outbreak is, but it’s really one of our biggest concerns, and the one that we’ve been focusing on since we have plans for those people that have diseases. What we’ve been focusing on is if you’re one of those production sites, let’s say you’re a sow farm and your shipping, you know, 1000 baby pigs a week to a nursery or to your wean to finish barns and you don’t have the disease, you’re still going to be impacted by the disease control measures with maybe, “Hey, you can’t ship your pigs right now”. And so, you know, years ago we were focusing on what you do to control the disease and deal with those people that have the disease. Now we’re focusing on, well, if you don’t have it, how would you get back into business? And that’s where the industry has been focused on supporting and helping to develop the Secure Pork Supply Plan, which is a business continuity plan for the pork industry for those producers that would be located in a disease control area, but don’t have the disease.
Don Wick: 05:08 So what would be the process to keep those guys in business and moving pigs?
Patrick Webb: 05:12 So when we do our producer education on it, as we work through the process of what would have to occur after an outbreak for a person to be able to move, and this is without having a Secure Pork Supply Plan, when we explain that, what we say Secure Pork is going to do is, you’re actually then going to be able to demonstrate those things that you would need to do after an outbreak on the front end or before the outbreak ever occurred. And, and so, these, actually there’s a whole library of what they’re calling a secure food supply programs. The beef industry, or excuse me, the dairy industry and the poultry industry’s all have secure food supply programs. Turkey industry as well and the pork industry. Now, all of those have been funded by USDA. They had been the big gun in the house, bringing the money to do this planning.
Patrick Webb: 06:11 So the Secure Pork Supply is built on three concepts that help promote business continuity. The first is a valid pre-harvest traceability system is in place and that includes premises registration, animal movements, and the record keeping that goes with that. The second area is a standardized biosecurity program that has been implemented and then verified that it’s in place. And the third is the disease surveillance that would help establish a status for that particular site. So those are the three main components, but there’s a lot of different things that go along with that. And so producers can go to, pork producers, can go to a secure pork dot.org, which is the implementation website for the program and kind of cookbook their way through those three main pillars to make sure that they are implementing the program standards in a way that is in compliance with the program and then verifying that those are in place. And then developing the mechanism to share that information with their state animal health officials on the front end of the outbreak as opposed to waiting until an outbreak. And then trying to build it all on the back end.
Don Wick: 07:24 I look, it wasn’t that many years ago when we saw the avian influenza outbreak and certainly had major implications for the poultry sector. Have we learned from those kinds of situations that helps us, you know, I know it’s a different species, but as we move forward in the pork industry?
Patrick Webb: 07:46 The avian influenza, high path avian influenza, was a really good testing ground for a secure food supply program. And, as that unfolded, and people started to have lessons learned from that, that actually delayed a little bit of the swine plan being finished up because the lessons learned were so important that they needed to be incorporated into the other secure food supply programs. And so, from the pork industry perspective, as much as we feel for our winged bretheren in that disease outbreak, it certainly was devastating to them. It did provide a lot of lessons learned and we’re paying attention. You know, I’ve often said to producers that regardless of the foreign animal disease, agriculture is an all in this together. And, so we need to be supportive of, of all the industries out there, as well as learn from anything that we can that would help improve our ability to respond to these things and promote business continuity in the future
Don Wick: 08:47 To be proactive, is there a place producers can go for information?
Patrick Webb: 08:51 Secure Pork Dot Org. That’s the one stop shop for our pork producers to go learn about Secure Pork. The Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University has done a tremendous job in revamping that website to be geared towards producer implementation. There’s a producer tab that will allow producers to cookbook their way through the plan and start putting together the bits and pieces that they need to be able to enroll in it. So far, I’ve heard from a couple of production systems that have been engaged in trying to learn more and using the website and it’s been very positively received. So that’s good. So securepork.org, first stop, right there for preparedness. The second is, you know, and the pork industry has been really good about registering swine premises, but making sure that all that information is up to date, not only for your farms, but with your state animal health officials. Making sure that that prem id number is actually associated with the site where the animals are, and also using that prem id on your movement records, bills of lading, and making sure that the veterinarian that you’re using is including that on the diagnostic laboratory submission forms. That prem id is a really good tool for us to be able to hook together bits of information and data by one common denominator.
Patrick Webb: 10:11 And so producers using that prem id in their normal business practice, that’s another low hanging fruit that can be done tomorrow. And so I’d say those are my two top ones. We also have the FAD push packs, which are foreign animal disease awareness and preparedness resources for the barn level. And those can be ordered at the Pork Store. They’re free to pork producers as well. And my goal is to try to get one of those in every barn. And, you know, on top of that, just making sure that you’re looking at, internally at your production system and saying, “All right, well, what would happen if I wasn’t able to move pigs for a week or two weeks? “. You know, trying to look at that internal crisis planning that you need to have for your site is another thing that can occur that will help elevate preparedness.
Don Wick: 11:05 Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.