ARLINGTON, VA. — Pork and agriculture industry groups united in a new partnership to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) into the United States.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the National Pork Board (NPB) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) announced their partnership at the NASDA Winter Policy Conference on Feb. 15.
“When you bring together state, federal and industry groups with different strengths to take on challenges, you see a united force of resilience across all fronts,” said Ted McKinney, chief executive officer at NASDA. “Our four organizations together will be able to coordinate strategies for animal disease preparedness and response, on not just one level but on local, state and federal levels. This type of collaboration will lead to better response to outbreaks and, ultimately, to better animal health and welfare across the US.”
ASF has yet to enter the United States, but the nation’s stakeholders have nonetheless been taking precautions to prepare for and prevent the disease.
“USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reacted swiftly when ASF was detected in the Western Hemisphere in 2021 and continues to be at the forefront of safeguarding US pork producers,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. “Keeping ASF out of the US takes attention from all of us. USDA continues to seek opportunities to expand collaboration to prevent the introduction of ASF and strengthen our domestic preparedness. We are pleased to add this new partnership to our efforts.”
In June 2022, APHIS introduced the Protect Our Pigs campaign, which provides resources for commercial pork producers, veterinarians and pig owners to safeguard against ASF.
The recent partnership connects pork producers with federal officials and enables a response plan for both preventing ASF and recovering from it if the situation calls later for that.
“NPPC is proud to be a part of the NASDA initiative to identify additional opportunities to advance our industry’s ASF preparedness,” said Terry Wolters, NPPC president and owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minn. “We all play an important role in keeping American agriculture safe, and working together enhances our ongoing efforts to prepare, prevent and mitigate potential foreign animal disease outbreaks in the United States.”
Dusty Oedekoven, chief veterinarian at NPPC, echoed excitement from the pork industry for this new partnership.
“National Pork Board is looking forward to bringing subject matter expertise to this partnership that can help support science-based decision-making,” he said. “One of the industry ASF priorities is giving producers the information they need to prepare for response. We view this partnership as one way to do that, by bringing forward key information from the state departments of agriculture that producers need to know, as well as making sure state partners understand the Checkoff-funded tools and research available to help producers prepare and respond to foreign animal disease.”