Eighteen years after last canceling the World Pork Expo due to foreign animal disease concerns, the National Pork Producers Council made a similar decision April 10.
Jim Monroe, assistant vice president for communications with NPPC, says the spread of African swine fever in China was the major factor behind the cancellation of this year’s event.
“We have been tracking it in China since 2018, and now it’s virtually endemic there,” he says. “That’s the largest swine herd in the world.”
Monroe says after consulting with the USDA, U.S. customers and several veterinarians, the decision was made by NPPC’s board of directors to cancel the expo.
“They felt it was a very small chance that the expo would bring ASF into the U.S., but we couldn’t look our members in the eye and tell them there was no chance of that happening,” he says.
“While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution,” David Herring, NPPC president and a producer from Lillington, North Carolina, said April 10. “The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defense against ASF, and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”
Monroe says exhibitors and producers have been very understanding of the decision. The National Swine Registry open show and junior show will still be held in Des Moines June 2-8.
The expo is a major source of funding for the NPPC, along with voluntary participation in the Strategic Investment Program, which allows producers to contribute a percentage of sales to the group.
“We have several engagements with our members each year, and we are looking into doing more of that,” he says. “The expo is a great place for networking and education, so that will be missed, but there are other opportunities.”
The lost revenue from the expo should not compromise NPPC’s mission, Monroe says.
“The expo is an important source of revenue, but NPPC remains financially sound,” he says. “Our members are very supportive and will move forward with our priorities.”
The top priority, Monroe says, is trade. He says the removal of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the subsequent elimination of retaliatory tariffs by Mexico, represents a huge boost for the pork industry.
Monroe adds NPPC continues to encourage a restoration of more normal trade with China and is hopeful a free trade agreement with Japan will become reality in the near future.