Secure pork supply back in spotlight

Plans being put in place to establish emergency FAD preparedness in livestock.

July 8, 2021

7 Min Read
Loading market hogs onto a semi trailer

In every size and type of pig production system, health is the utmost concern. American pig farmers have learned the fine details of recognizing, treating, vaccinating against and avoiding familiar diseases in swine. What would happen in the event of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) outbreak?

Across the country, plans are being put in place to establish emergency FAD preparedness in livestock. Currently, Secure Food Supply plans have been developed for milk, poultry, beef, and pork. The purpose of the Secure Supply plan is to provide livestock producers with a workable continuity of business plan should an FAD occur.

In the event of an FAD outbreak, livestock movement would be restricted, and preparation for such a catastrophe is the best way to ensure that producers could continue to move animals off of the farm and move products to market.

The Secure Supply plan also prepares producers for cooperating with animal health officials in the event of an outbreak, and provides consumers with confidence that their meat, milk, and egg supply is safe.

State and federal officials, collaborating with the National Pork Board, industry, and universities, are continuing to roll out Secure Pork Supply information to swine producers. In Minnesota, Dr. John King has accepted the task of coordinating the Secure Food Supply. Working in conjunction with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, Dr. King is available to meet with producers, veterinarians and producer groups to help them learn how to participate in the program, including all of the meat animal species raised in our state.

Three components of the Secure Pork Supply have been identified and are being delivered to producers across the state.

Traceability and movement management- It’s been proven that restricting movement of animals reduces the spread of disease, but that benefit has to be balanced with the costs of interrupting business. In addition, there is a real threat to animal welfare when they are kept in close proximity to diseased animals.

A farm connected to a validated national Premises Identification Number (PIN) is a key component in helping officials determine disease control areas and potential movement of animals.

Enhanced biosecurity- Four important concepts to tighten up a producer’s biosecurity effort are highlighted:

  • Identify a biosecurity manager

  • Draft a written, site-specific biosecurity plan and document the training

  • Define and implement a Perimeter Buffer area

  • Define and implement a Line of Separation

Foreign animal disease training, response and surveillance- Swine farm personnel must become familiar with the three most common swine foreign animal diseases.

  1. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

  2. Classical Swine Fever (CSF), formerly known in the U.S. as Hog Cholera

  3. African Swine Fever (ASF)

Please note: FMD, CSF, and ASF are not public health or food safety concerns. Meat will still be safe to eat.

However, these diseases are very contagious in swine, and each team member on the pig farm should be able to recognize clinical signs. Currently, swine producers are asked to keep a daily observation record of their pigs and doing so will help provide timely documentation in the event of a disease outbreak. If suspicious signs are observed, farm personnel will be asked to collect oral and nasal swab samples to submit for testing. Any suspicions about pig health should be reported to a veterinarian immediately.

Premises ID Number (PIN)
The national premises ID number (PIN) is a unique seven-character identifier assigned to a premises where pigs are produced, kept or moved through. Each state’s Board of Animal Health manages the identification program and assigns the PIN for producers. National PINs are not specific only to swine; premises where any food animal is raised can have a PIN.

Today, more than 95% of swine premises use the national PIN. The pork industry is striving to reach 100% adoption of PINs. Not only will accurate PINs on every pig farm provide pinpoint accuracy to reduce disease spread, but PIN use demonstrates a superior traceability system to the United States’ international trade partners.

PINs are a key component of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) site assessment, and many packers require a PQA+ site assessment as a condition of sale. Since January 2015, all sows and boars sold into the food chain must have an ear tag containing the farm’s PIN. PINs are also required by many major swine shows and exhibitions.

To obtain a PIN, producers can contact their state BOAH.
Use the PIN regularly
The national Premises ID Number (PIN) is key to identifying and tracking swine as they move across the United States. We know that market swine typically move directly from farm to harvest plant, but culled breeding stock takes a more indirect route.

In 2018, Dr. Jim Lowe and his graduate student Ben Blair at the University of Illinois studied cull sow movement prior to harvest. They learned that cull sows often travel across the country for a week before they actually reach a harvest plant. Culls are mixed and re-sorted by size and leanness, and in Lowe’s study, crossed an average of 3 ½ state lines. Lowe and Blair found that sows often left the farm free of disease pathogens but arrived at the harvest plant pathogen positive, and many times with disease pathogens from other species. Cull sows account for 5-8% of the pork processed in the U.S. The Illinois study showed how cull breeding stock moves across the country, and the effect its movement could have on disease spread during an FAD crisis.

Convert the PIN to bar code
Producers are encouraged to use their PIN on every communication related to their swine operation. National Pork Board provides instructions for converting the PIN to a bar code which can be printed onto labels and attached to paperwork and samples. All veterinary diagnostic labs recognize the bar codes.

To convert the farm PIN to a barcode, go to, found within the Food Safety section of the National Pork Board website. At the Swine ID tab, a producer can enter the PIN. The program will generate an address response and ask if the address is correct for the PIN provided. A sheet of barcodes will be created which can then be printed onto labels, or saved in a pdf file.

Validate the correct PIN location
A team from University of Minnesota’s department of Veterinary Population Medicine took a close look at PIN information and found two types of accuracy problems.

  1. PINs linked to a site with incorrect address or longitude and latitude coordinates. The PIN must be connected to the actual physical address where the animals are located. For emergency response activities, the PIN must correspond to the animal location.

  2. One PIN for several geographically distinct sites. Producers with more than one farm or barns on several locations need to get a separate PIN for each site. In the case of a disease outbreak, if multiple barns/farms are connected to one PIN, all of the facilities would be designated as infected, even if only one actually was. (Sanhueza, Corzo, Culhane and Geary. Swine Health Information Center fact sheet)

As COVID-19 issues begin to wane, swine producers will once again hear more about the Secure Pork Supply plan throughout 2021, and details are in place to assist producers, veterinarians, and harvest plants in putting together a plan and enrolling. The SPS is voluntary; Countless hours and thought have gone into preparing the pig community for continuity of business in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak. More details can be found at Producers wanting some personal help with their Secure Pork Supply plan can contact UM Extension swine educators Diane DeWitte or Sarah Schieck Boelke for further assistance.

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