USDA announces ASF control measures

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

USDA announces ASF control measures

Related tags Us Pork Usda African swine fever Livestock

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a series of measures to “control and eradicate” African Swine Fever (ASF) if the virus is ever detected in the country.

Announced by USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, the new measures are designed to “ensure an immediate and effective response if ASF is detected in the US”​.

The measures include:

  • The Secretary would immediately take necessary steps to declare an “extraordinary emergency”​ establishing USDA as the leader of a coordinated national approach to control and eradication, and ensuring the availability of funding and additional resources necessary for the response. 
  • USDA would issue a national standstill of at least 72 hours to prohibit all movement of swine increasing USDA’s ability to stop disease spread and to act quickly to restore movement on a regionalized basis.
  • For the depopulation of infected and exposed animals, USDA would work with states and industry to utilize the most efficient and effective depopulation methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association that are appropriate for the affected premises.  
  • To prevent virus from leaving infected premises, USDA will work proactively with industry and states to ensure producers have herd plans to deal with carcass disposal in line with regional and local requirements, supporting composting and burial in place as preferred options.

Also, in a bid to reduce paperwork, USDA said it plans to pay for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of affected premises. 

The USDA added that its researchers are developing vaccine candidates that “show promise against ASF”​ and that meanwhile, it will continue to work with industry and state partners to keep ASF out of the US.

“First and foremost, USDA is committed to doing all it can to prevent ASF from entering the US and we greatly appreciate the pork industry’s vigilance and partnership in this successful effort thus far,”​ said Under Secretary Ibach. “However, the additional measures I am announcing today will strengthen our ability to quickly and effectively respond to the disease if detected here at home.”

 “ASF is epidemiologically similar to foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s system of overlapping safeguards and prevention efforts have been successful against that disease for over 90 years now,”​ added Ibach. “We remain confident those efforts will provide the same protections against ASF.”

The National Pig Producers Council (NPPC) welcomed the measures. “We are grateful to Secretary Perdue and Under Secretary Ibach for hearing the concerns of US pork producers,”​ said David Herring, NPPC president. “We remain committed to working with the USDA and Customs and Border Protection to keep ASF out of the United States.”​ 

On a recent GlobalMeatNews webinar on the topic, Dr Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services said there was a “slim chance”​ that the US would remain free of the disease and it was likely that it’s already in North America​.

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