“Virtual Fly-In” Highlights Pork Concerns over ASF

The National Pork Producers Council held a virtual “fly-in” to Washington D.C., which they call the “Legislative Action Conference.” The event normally takes place in DC but went online because of COVID-19. Producers from across the country met with their congressmen to discuss issues important to the pork industry. NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth talks about some of those key issues.

“Among our top issues is a COVID-19 relief package that includes much-needed assistance for hog farmers in crisis and ensuring that African Swine Fever and other foreign animal diseases don’t enter this country. Germany reported its first case of ASF in a wild boar; after just one case, the repercussions have been swift and significant, with German pork exports suspended to a number of its biggest markets, including China, South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.”

African Swine Fever continues to be one of American pork farmers’ top concerns.

“The swine-only disease continues to spread in parts of Europe and Asia and has killed one out of every four pigs in the world. Last week’s news is an ever-present reminder that the United States needs to remain vigilant to protect our borders and our ports from ASF and other foreign animal diseases. Unfortunately, a significant lapse in inspection funding is putting our country in a precarious position.”

Failure to address any shortfall in border inspection funding will have serious effects not only on the pork industry but the overall U.S. agricultural economy,

“The U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s agriculture inspections at the U.S. ports of entry are funded by agriculture quarantine inspection program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, the collection of these user fees has dropped dramatically. Even worse, the user fee reserve fund maintained for such a contingency will be depleted this month. These agricultural inspectors are our first line of defense to ensure our nation’s $1 trillion agriculture sector is safe.”

He says now is not the time for America to drop its guard against foreign animal diseases like ASF.

“It would be unthinkable to let our guard down, leaving U.S. agriculture at-risk. Pork producers are already facing an unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 human health pandemic. An outbreak of ASF or other foreign animal diseases in the U.S. would be a devastating blow to hog farmers already teetering on the edge.”