In 2013, when pork producers faced an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, the U.S. pork industry put a renewed emphasis on farm biosecurity. Currently the U.S. pork industry has aligned its efforts to reduce the risks from foreign animal disease by creating the National Swine Disease Council.

The council is comprised of key industry leaders from six distinct areas of swine-science expertise. The National Swine Disease Council leadership includes representatives from the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, the Swine Health Information Center, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as state animal health officials.

“The biggest risk we face is any foreign animal disease entering the United States,” said Paul Sundberg, executive director at the Swine Health Information Center. “As an industry we have decades of response experience and are well prepared for any number of swine-specific diseases, however a new or emerging disease can threaten animal health and welfare, as well as public health. While it is virtually impossible to prevent every disease from entering the United States, the formation of this council will allow us to respond even more quickly thereby mitigating risk to herd health through fast action and response.”

A newly emerging disease can also disrupt U.S. pork exports and commerce, negatively impacting pork producers and their businesses. The combined expertise of the participating organizations will center on rapid response to diseases that threaten the U.S. pork industry.

Dave Pyburn, senior vice-president of science and technology for the national Pork Checkoff, said, “The National Pork Board is well positioned to respond having invested producer dollars over the past 30 years to establish research priorities and response protocols. In the end it comes down to producer awareness and education, which is our area of expertise. We have outstanding programs in place and pig farmers are committed to on-farm biosecurity procedures.”

Starting with the formation of the council and identification of member participants, the producers and their organizations will turn their focus toward providing recommendations in collaboration with state and federal animal health officials, and other industry stakeholders, to respond to emerging swine diseases. Any disease could potentially threaten herd health and negatively affect the U.S. pork industry. The council plans to focus on several other topics as well.

  • recommending policies for emerging and foreign animal diseases and collaborating with animal health officials, regulatory agencies, and stakeholders to increase understanding of disease and quick response
  • promoting acceptance of recommended actions throughout the U.S. pork industry

The council will rely on subject-matter experts to advise and inform on every aspect of disease management. That may include forming short- and long-term project teams to make, review and implement appropriate recommendations.

Harry Snelson of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians said, “There has already been a significant amount of work done to identify and assess foreign and emerging disease outbreaks and non-regulatory disease outbreaks in the United States. But we can always improve coordination in assessing and responding. The National Swine Disease Council will facilitate that strategy.”

Rapid and effective response to disease outbreaks is the council’s top priority. Understanding what diseases exist in the world and keeping them out of the country continues to be the most important task in terms of risk management as those diseases pose a significant threat to U.S. pork production.

Liz Wagstrom of the National Pork Producers Council said, “Each of the six organizations has deep experience working together, and we each look forward to even more collaboration in the years ahead. The end game for each of us is to improve disease detection, assessment, containment and eradication. Only then can we rest knowing that the nation’s pork supply is secure, the animal agriculture and food production industry is stable, and public health is protected.”

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