Pork Checkoff Lauds Enhanced USDA Surveillance for African Swine Fever

DES MOINES, IOWA – May 16, 2019 – The National Pork Board is pleased with today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to further its overall African swine fever (ASF) preparedness efforts with the implementation of a surveillance plan that now adds the ability to test for ASF along with classical swine fever.

“This enhanced ability by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to test for ASF simultaneously with classical swine fever only helps to improve the pork industry’s overall surveillance capabilities,” said Dave Pyburn, DVM, senior vice president of the Checkoff’s science and technology department. “As USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach said, this change offers us a faster way to find any potential disease and that is something we always welcome.”

Like classical swine fever, ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, it remains a top concern for the U.S. pork industry as the virus continues to spread globally.

“We continue to collaborate with USDA and all of our industry partners to find new ways to enhance preparedness for foreign animal diseases,” Pyburn said. “Anything that we can do to improve surveillance and mitigate risk is something we want to achieve so that we can help keep our country free of these costly diseases. We also want to have every possible advantage if these diseases do reach our shores so that we can quickly restore animal health, animal movements and trade for business continuity.”

According to APHIS, the enhanced surveillance effort will test samples from high-risk animals, including sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories; sick or dead pigs at points of swine congregation; and pigs from herds that are at greater risk for disease through such factors as exposure to feral swine or garbage feeding. As usual, USDA will work with state and federal partners to identify and investigate incidents involving sick or dead feral swine to determine if they should be tested for ASF or other foreign animal diseases.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Pork Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in consumer education and marketing, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety, and environmental management and sustainability. For the past half century, the U.S. pork industry has delivered on its commitment to sustainable production and has made significant strides in reducing the environmental impact of pig farming. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or visit www.pork.org.