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U.S. pork industry making progress on Secure Pork Supply plan

National Pork Board allocates an additional $1.6 million to effort.

The National Pork Board (NPB), with major support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is creating a Secure Pork Supply plan to help America’s pig farmers respond quickly and successfully to a major threat, such as a foreign animal disease (FAD).

NPB reported at World Pork Expo (WPX), being held this week in Des Moines that the plan, to be launched in 2018, will enhance communication and coordination of all pork chain segments to help producers keep their farms operating and all related business activities functioning. While producer participation will be voluntary, NPB strongly encourages producers enroll.

“There are few things that strike fear in a pork producer’s heart faster than the discussion of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and what it means not only to my farm but also to the entire pork industry,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president from Friend, Nebraska. “Fortunately, we have not had FMD since 1929, but recently economic research showed us that it could devastate our industry.”

The Iowa State University study estimates potential revenue losses to U.S. pork and beef industries from an FMD outbreak would run $12.8 billion per year or $128 billion over a 10-year period. Related losses to corn and soybean markets over a decade would be $44 billion and $24.9 billion, respectively.

O’Neel said the Secure Pork Supply will pay big dividends by getting pork production back to normal much faster if a foreign animal disease such as FMD, African swine fever or another foreign animal disease were to emerge.

Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey told members of the press at WPX that the state of Iowa recently learned firsthand that foreign animal disease and disease outbreaks happen.

“A couple years ago we had High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the state of Iowa. We saw severe losses in our ag and turkey business,” he said. “Many of the things that have been part of the process for understanding how to put a plan together for Secure Pork Supply were tested during some of that time. It can happen. Just because it hasn’t happened here in a long time in the pork business, certainly does not mean we should sit on our hands.”

The Secure Pork Supply plan will provide procedures that pork producers, processors and federal/state agencies agree are feasible should an FAD strike, according to veterinarian Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs for the Pork Checkoff. This would include the safe movement of animals from farms in an FAD control area to harvest channels or to other production sites as long as the pigs have no evidence of disease.

“The Secure Pork Supply plan will provide business continuity to producers who enroll prior to an outbreak, which will allow them to be back in business faster than those who do not participate,” Webb said.

Basics of the plan that will help producer achieve this include implementing sound biosecurity, using premises identification tags, keeping detailed production records and maintaining all necessary health papers and certificates.

“As a pork producer, I want to be ready when it’s time to sign up as a participant in the Secure Pork Supply program,” O’Neel said. “In the meantime, let’s all prepare by ramping up our farms biosecurity measures and other steps so we’ll be ready to go.”

The Secure Pork Supply plan is the result of ongoing collaboration between the USDA, the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and academia, as well as other state and federal partners.

“The National Pork Board and our producer leaders believe that investing in the Secure Pork Supply Plan now will help the entire industry in the face of a future FAD outbreak,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board chief executive officer. “Pork producers are known for being innovative leaders, and through this work, the Pork Checkoff is taking a leadership role in being prepared.”

An example of the commitment, Even said, was exhibited during NPB meetings held ahead of WPX, wherein it was decided that an additional $1.6 million would be allocated to the effort.

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