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Hog farmers nervous about African Swine Fever now in Northern Hemisphere

The African Swine Fever is now in Northern Hemisphere and that is making U.S. hog farmers nervous.

“We are certainly quite nervous about African Swine Fever this last year with the amount in the Dominican Republic and Haiti,” Minnesota Pork Board President Brad Hennen said.

“It makes us nervous that we know it is in our hemisphere. The most likely introduction of that disease to our shore would come via people traffic and bringing pork products with them.”

African Swine Fever is a highly contagious disease of domestic and wild pigs which can lead to economic and production losses. Transmission can occur through feed, but also from objects like shoes, clothes, vehicles, etc.

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed African Swine Fever in samples collected from pigs ion the Dominican Republic. In a statement, the USDA gave assurances of numerous interlocking safeguards in place to prevent the disease from entering the U.S.

The USDA also said pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry into the U.S. It also said the Department of Homeland Security’s Custom and Border Protection is increasing inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic.

The threat of the disease has attracted attention of Minnesota’s two U.S. senators. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging immediate action to prevent the African Swine Fever from spreading to the U.S. They also urged continued preparation for emergency response efforts in the event of an outbreak.

“While African Swine Fever is not a threat to human health, an outbreak in the U.S. would be economically devastating for our state’s pork production, which is the second largest in the nation,” Klobuchar and Smith wrote.

“The confirmed cases have shown that we need to be doing everything we can to prevent catastrophic disease outbreaks before they start, and if we do have an outbreak, we need to be prepared.”

Hennen is also nervous about domestic disease as well. He mentioned the threat of PRRS, which stands for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Hennen said PRRS has already devastated a number of hog operations across the Midwest this summer.

“That kind of makes winners and losers out of farms depending on whether they were the ones hit or not,” he said.

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