Young pigs

Research, education, prevention and preparedness have been essential elements in the pork industry response to ASF.

As the one-year anniversary of China’s acknowledgment of African swine fever in its country’s herds passes, the U.S. pork industry is evaluating where it stands in its ability to deal with this ongoing threat that has now engulfed much of southeast Asia.

“We’re definitely in a better position today to deal with a threat such as African swine fever,” National Pork Board President David Newman said in a news release from the group.

“That said, we can never be too prepared with a devastating disease like this. What I like though is how much our industry has come together over the past 12 months in a spirit of collaboration to get the job done.”

For almost a year, the Pork Checkoff has taken a role in collaborating with government and industry partners to protect the United States from ASF. Primary partners in this effort include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center. When it comes to working on feed biosecurity issues specifically, the American Feed Industry Association has also been essential to the effort.

“You can break our industry response to ASF into four main areas,” said Dave Pyburn, the Pork Checkoff’s senior vice president of science and technology. “We have research, education, prevention and preparedness, which is where we will continue to focus our combined efforts.”

In looking ahead, the ASF situation in China and other Asian countries won’t likely get better in the near-term and could be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. However, Newman said he is excited for what he sees as the fruition of long- and short-term investments in disease preparedness in the United States.

“When you consider how far we’ve come in just the last year and then what’s on the horizon in terms of tools to help every U.S. pig farmer fight threats like ASF, it’s reassuring,” Newman says. “This has happened because we’ve been deliberate in how we’ve approached this challenge by breaking down silos to find solutions.”

Pyburn also points to upcoming technology innovations. This includes the software interface that will enhance the current Secure Pork Supply program’s ability to protect business continuity during an outbreak of ASF or other disease challenges.

“The Pork Checkoff will continue to focus on creating useful tools and delivering relevant information to producers and the entire pork chain in the year ahead,” Pyburn says. “It’s why we’re here and it’s what we’re determined to do.”

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