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New swine industry council to focus on protecting animal, public health

National Swine Disease Council will focus on providing recommendations on responding to emerging swine diseases.

Several key swine industry groups announced Jan. 15 that they are aligning efforts to reduce the risks from foreign animal disease by creating the National Swine Disease Council (NSDC).

NSDC will be comprised of key industry leaders from six distinct areas of swine science expertise, an announcement from the National Pork Board said. NSDC leadership includes representatives from the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the North American Meat Institute, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as state animal health officials. 

“The biggest risk we face is any foreign animal disease entering the U.S.,” SHIC executive director Paul Sundberg said. “As an industry, we have decades of response experience and are well prepared for any number of swine-specific diseases; however, a new or emerging disease can threaten animal health and welfare as well as public health.

"While it is virtually impossible to prevent every disease from entering the U.S., the formation of this council will allow us to respond even more quickly, thereby mitigating risk to herd health through fast action and response,” Sundberg added.

A newly emerging disease can also disrupt U.S. pork exports and commerce, negatively affecting pork producers and their businesses. The combined expertise of the participating organizations will center on rapid response to diseases that threaten the U.S. pork industry.

“The National Pork Board is well positioned to respond, having invested producer dollars over the past 30 years to establish research priorities and response protocols,” said Dave Pyburn, pork checkoff senior vice president of science and technology. “In the end, it comes down to producer awareness and education, which is our area of expertise. We have outstanding programs in place, and pig farmers are committed to on-farm biosecurity procedures.”

Additionally, Pyburn noted that 90% of farms have a premises identification number, which is key for tracing disease outbreaks, according to a November 2018 producer survey.

Patrick Webb with the National Pork Board told Feedstuffs that the organizations will work cooperatively to identify members, which is initially expected to be about 15 people, but that could change based on need. Webb said council members may serve flexible terms due to the complexity of issues faced, the time it takes to get members up to speed and the importance of historical knowledge.

Once the members are identified, the group will focus on providing recommendations in collaboration with state and federal animal health officials and other industry stakeholders to respond to emerging swine diseases, the announcement said.

Any disease could potentially threaten herd health and negatively affect the U.S. pork industry. This focus specifically includes:

* Recommending policies for emerging and foreign animal diseases and collaborating with animal health officials, regulatory agencies and stakeholders to increase the understanding of disease and quick response, and

* Promoting acceptance of recommended actions throughout the U.S. pork industry.

NSDC will rely on subject matter experts to advise and inform on every aspect of disease management. That may include forming short- and long-term project teams to make, review and implement appropriate recommendations.

“There has already been a significant amount of work done to identify and assess foreign and emerging disease outbreaks and non-regulatory disease outbreaks in the U.S.,” said Harry Snelson, incoming AASV executive director. “We can always improve coordination in assessing and responding. NSDC will facilitate that strategy.”

Rapid and effective response to disease outbreaks is the council’s top priority. Understanding what diseases exist in the world and keeping them out of the country continues to be the most important task in terms of risk management, as those diseases pose a significant threat to U.S. pork production.

“Each of the six organizations has deep experience working together, and we each look forward to even more collaboration in the years ahead,” NPPC chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom said. “The end game for each of us is to improve disease detection, assessment, containment and eradication. Only then can we rest, knowing that the nation’s pork supply is secure, the animal agriculture and food production industry is stable and public health is protected.”

TAGS: Swine
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