WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 on March 3 that adds US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, canine teams and other resources aimed at preventing the introduction of animal diseases and pests into the United States like the African swine fever (ASF).
The bill authorizes funding for three years to hire, train and assign 240 agricultural specialists above attrition levels each year until the total number is equal to or sustains staffing requirements. CBP can also hire 200 agricultural technicians until staffing targets are met for three years. In addition, the bill authorizes funding for 20 canine agriculture teams each year for the first three fiscal years following the enactment of the bill.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauded the President’s decision to sign the bill into law, particularly the approach to other foreign animal diseases.
“Ensuring we have enough agricultural inspectors at our borders is critical to maintaining a healthy US swine herd,” said NPPC President David Herring. “The US Dept. of Agriculture and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have done much to mitigate the risk to animal disease. Bolstered by this legislation, even more resources will be available to strengthen biosecurity at our borders. This is a victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy.”
Herring also thanked Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) and Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), for their strong leadership on this issue, and President Trump for signing this essential bill into law.
The bill was originally introduced by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) in the House of Representatives in September 2019. Anxe released a statement of support following Trump’s decision to sign the bill.
“I’m pleased that the President has signed our legislation to ensure we have enough resources to protect our border from African Swine Fever and other animal diseases,” Axne said. “We’ve seen diseases such as African Swine Fever destroy hog populations throughout the world. An outbreak in Iowa, which leads the nation in producing nearly one-third of all U.S. hogs, would be devastating to an industry that is an economic driver and job creator across our state.”
China has seen half of its breeding pig population die or slaughtered because of ASF according to estimates. The disease continues to spread throughout Southeast Asia with other reports of outbreaks in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and South Africa.