Animal Health Matters: Securing the US pork industry
African swine fever has been spreading across Europe and Asia at an increasing rate since 2018, and in 2021 the virus was found in pigs in the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti). The previous article described the potential economic risk to the U.S. pork industry and related service providers.
The National Pork Board’s (NPB) foreign animal disease (FAD) prevention, preparedness and response strategies have all been shaped by producer input. Their Pork Checkoff funds have enhanced the science and technology behind the tools used to locate a disease control zone, stop the spread and eradicate the disease while limiting the negative consequences.
AgView provides movement data for contact tracing
The U.S. pork industry moves pigs between multiple sites during the lifetime of the pig. Piglets are moved from farrowing sites to grower sites and finishing barns before being delivered to harvest facilities. It is estimated 1 million pigs are on the road in the U.S. on any given1 day! A single case of ASF in the U.S. would be cause for a nationwide stop-movement order to stop the spread of the disease and so animal health officials can conduct contact tracing of infected pigs. Imagine the supply chain disruption and the need for continuity of business!
AgView is a Pork Checkoff-funded online software platform that provides real-time, producer-permissioned access to pig movement data to state and federal animal health officials on day one of an outbreak.
While more than 800 producers are documenting about 12,000 pig movements each week, AgView continues to evolve through user feedback. Producers are encouraged to sign up for AgView or request a demonstration at porkcheckoff.org/agview.
Secure pork supply improves biosecurity planning
Funded by Pork Checkoff and USDA, the industry has a unified, farm-specific business continuity plan for sites under movement restrictions but not infected with African swine fever. Farm level biosecurity is at the core of disease prevention.
Producers’ voluntary involvement in Secure Pork Supply (SPS) includes:
- Requesting a National Premises Identification Number (PIN) from the office of your State Animal Health Official;
- Developing site-specific biosecurity plans, regardless of operation type or size; and
- Monitoring for signs of FADs on-farm.
SPS documentation may be necessary in the event of an outbreak to acquire movement permits to move pigs between production sites. The SPS training materials help producers identify biosecurity risks and create a plan to mitigate them.
Producers are encouraged to create their SPS at securepork.org.
Producers trained to collect samples
Veterinary resources are limited during a disease outbreak. Recognizing there may not be enough veterinarians to collect necessary samples, NPB is also collaborating with stakeholders on the Certified Swine Sample Collector (CSSC) training program. Accredited veterinarians train producers, caretakers
and industry partners on how to properly collect samples for diagnostic and surveillance purposes. A standardized curriculum will help ensure collector training is consistent. During an FAD outbreak, state officials will determine when CSSC may be needed to collect approved samples in collaboration with the accredited veterinarian.
Animal health officials have rolled out the program in 14 states, with more than 400 individuals trained so far. The program was developed with funding from USDA’s National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response program. Checkoff funds now fully support the program, including the creation of Spanish-language materials.
Learn more at securepork.org.
U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan unifies a national strategy for producers
Modeled after a program for poultry, U.S. SHIP aims to provide continuity of interstate commerce and a pathway toward the resumption of international trade in the event of an outbreak. Producers voluntarily demonstrate compliance with standards for biosecurity, traceability, and testing, giving animal health officials and trading partners confidence in moving pigs between certified sites.
To date, the level of industry engagement and solidarity behind U.S. SHIP is encouraging. Approximately 50% of the U.S. breeding herd and growing pigs across 31 states are enrolled in U.S. SHIP,2 which is on an expedited path toward becoming a USDA program by 2024.
Producers are encouraged to enroll in U.S. SHIP at usswinehealthimprovementplan.com.
These tools work collaboratively with one another for an exponential industry-wide benefit. While NPB will continue to partner with USDA and other stakeholders to incorporate science-based tools and data into the national prevention and response strategies, every producer has a responsibility to do their part on-farm.
Dusty Oedekoven is Chief Veterinarian of the National Pork Board.