The National Pork Producers Council Wednesday commended Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for dedicating $500 million in USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds for prevention of and preparation for African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease that would be devastating for the U.S. pork industry.
The CCC, a wholly owned government corporation created in 1933, implements specific agricultural programs established by Congress and carries out activities under the CCC Charter Act.
“NPPC thanks Sec. Vilsack for providing additional funding for federal efforts to protect America’s 60,000-plus pork producers from this devastating disease,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “The United States remains free of ASF, and the U.S. pork industry for the past several years has been doing everything it can to maintain that status. These funds will help that effort.”
“To paraphrase then-Vice President Biden, this is a big freakin’ deal,” said Bob Acord, an NPPC consultant and former administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “This is unprecedented both in terms of the amount dedicated to one animal disease and of getting the funds upfront, before we have the disease in the U.S.”
ASF, which is not a threat to people but is highly contagious among hogs and has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate, recently was detected in the Dominican Republic and in Haiti, the first time in 40 years the disease has been in the Western Hemisphere. APHIS immediately took steps to stop the spread of the disease to the U.S. mainland and to the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ever since ASF began spreading through Asia in 2018, NPPC has been urging Congress and USDA to prepare for the disease, asking for, among other things, funds for additional U.S. agricultural inspectors, more staff for USDA’s Veterinary Services, funds for APHIS’s Veterinary Stockpile for equipment to euthanize hogs and additional washout facilities for trucks that transport livestock.
For its part, NPPC has been educating U.S. pork producers about precautions to protect the U.S. swine herd, including using caution when hosting on-farm visitors from ASF-positive regions of the world, reviewing biosecurity protocols to ensure consistent practice of appropriate safeguards and discussing with feed suppliers the origin of ingredients they use in hog feed formulas.
“ASF is a serious disease, with serious consequences for pork producers,” Sorenson said. “We’re pleased USDA recognizes the severity of this threat and is dedicating a lot of resources to deal with it and to protect the nation’s pork producers.”
Source: NPPC news release