The additional $19.6m funding, part of the 2020 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, has been welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
“For more than a year, NPPC has advocated for an increase in the number of agricultural inspectors at our borders,” said NPPC president David Herring. “We applaud the House, especially Reps. Vela, Thompson, Peterson, Axne, Carbajal, Gonzalez, Costa, Rouzer and Fortenberry, for approving an essential provision to reduce the risk of ASF and other FADs and to protect the rural economy from a devastating outbreak. We also thank the USDA and Customs and Border Protection for all they have done to strengthen US biosecurity.”
The NPPC suggests that the most likely way ASF or another foreign animal disease (FAD) could enter the country would be through the importation of infected animals or contaminated products. It warns that an outbreak of certain FADs would “immediately close US pork export markets, with significant harm to farmers, consumers and overall economy”.
The trade body added that it continues to advocate for other FAD preparedness measures, including establishing a US Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill, warning that the US does not currently have access to enough vaccine to quickly contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak.
Earlier this year, Dr Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services warned that ASF may already be in North America and, if it reaches the commercial herd, could cost the country’s agricultural industry $16bn in the first year alone.