Although ASF has not hit the US, the event organisers took the decision to cancel it out of “extreme caution”.
The World Pork Expo traditionally takes place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, and hosts around 20,000 visitors over three days. It was due to take place on June 5-7 this year.
NPPC president David Herring explained the decision: “While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution. The health of the US swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defence against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”
Even though ASF only affects pigs and has no risk to humans, multiple cases across the globe have led to many nations, including the US, to introduce stricter measures to prevent it entering their domestic herd.
“Our farmers are highly export-dependent,” Herring said. “An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds. The retaliatory tariffs we currently face in some of our largest export markets, due to trade disputes, are among the factors that prompted a conservative decision regarding World Pork Expo. US pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions.”
He added: “The widespread presence of ASF in China’s swine herd, the world’s largest by far, takes the threat of this swine disease to an entirely new level. We ask all producers, travellers and the general public to recognise the heightened risk since the first outbreak was reported in China last year and to heed biosecurity protocols in support of US agriculture.”
The National Pork Board offered its support to the NPPC on its decision.
“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.
“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African Swine Fever to the US,” Rommereim added. “But any risk needs to be managed – and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board. This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”