Why Are We Worried About Foreign Animal Disease?

U.S. pork production plays an integral part in the global market for meat. Collaborative focus and support from all pork consumers, producers, and travelers are what is needed to keep the spread of FADs at bay.
Why Are We Worried About Foreign Animal Disease? - News


Biosecurity in Practice, Robb Meinen, Penn State

It is currently estimated that the U.S. exported 47%1 of all global pork trading in 2018, and 67%1 of all pork exported from North America (U.S. and Canada). As for imports, the U.S. is estimated to have imported only 6%1 of all pork imports globally.

These numbers emphasize the importance of quality pork production in the U.S., for both domestic and international consumers. These numbers are high because U.S. pork producers focus on high quality and efficient pork production, creating a healthy product for an affordable price.

Participating in global trade is necessary for the success of the U.S. pork industry and in economic standing around the world. This, however, also leaves us at risk of contracting foreign animal diseases (FADs) that place pigs and producers at risk. In 2014, this was best exemplified when Porcine Endemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) was introduced into the U.S. and Canada from overseas. This disease caused mortality to spike dramatically across the U.S., causing the number of full value hogs per farrow to drop by 7% one year.

While this does not sound like a large drop, it was the result of a wave of illness that was spread around the country, particularly Midwest producers, in a very short amount of time, causing some individual farm to lose all wean pigs for weeks or months. Farms that were at the greatest risk were those ordering feed, and those with people operating the farm.

You might be thinking, well, isn’t that all farms? That’s right. At the time, we did not know PEDv could travel through feed. Now, knowledge on feed ingredients and sources, traffic, and hog movements around your facility all play critical parts in preparing for FADs, such as African Swine Fever (ASF) and Classical Swine Fever (CSF).

We are less than 1 month into 2019, and already, ASF and CSF stories are dominating the headlines. New cases of ASF in China and Belgium are cause for concern in movement of domestic and wild hogs, and feed products from China. While a reported case of ASF in meat imports to Australia should re-emphasize the importance of continued regulation of imported pork products. Further, Japan is still facing an increasing number of cases of CSF from the initial outbreak in September of 2018. The pressure for the development of a vaccine is increasing. As of today, there still is no vaccine available for ASF.

Collaborative focus and support from all pork consumers, producers, and travelers are what is needed to keep the spread of ASF at bay. If you have not yet prepared your bio-security and FAD plan for your farm, this may be a great time to make that a farm resolution for the new year.

Seek out information on preparation for FAD and more information on the spread of ASF in this article from Penn State Extension.

1 Global numbers are calculated from October 2018 forecasted total exports, Livestock and Poultry: World Markets Trade, USDA, p14-16.