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USDA to Conduct Exercise of Fictional ASF Outbreak
DES MOINES, Iowa -- In an attempt to increase preparedness for any eventuality regarding African swine fever (ASF) entering the country, the USDA will be holding exercises next week.
Fourteen states will participate in the full-function exercises on foreign animal disease (FAD) that will run from September 23-26.
The weeklong exercise will focus on a fictional outbreak of ASF and the response by federal and state authorities along with individual pork producers.
The idea is to see how each stakeholder in the pork industry reacts to a fictional outbreak and where the gaps are in the pipeline.
ASF is a highly contagious virus that affects pigs, causing high fever, loss of appetite and vomiting, and usually resulting in death. Other livestock species are not susceptible to ASF.
There are no human health risks from ASF; it does not affect humans and is not a public health threat.
ASF is Spreading
Just this week, the Philippines announced its first ASF case.
ASF is found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. It has spread through China, Mongolia and Vietnam, as well as within parts of the European Union.
Due to an endemic outbreak of AFS, Chinese production of pork is estimated to be cut by 25% by the end of the year.
An ASF outbreak in the U.S. would, however, have the potential to cause enormous economic losses not only to pork producers but to the entire production chain as well as to consumers, according to a Kansas State Department of Agriculture press release Friday.
Kansas will be participating in next week’s exercise, along with Iowa and twelve other states.
In 2018, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds valued at $6.392 billion, according to USDA.
“If an FAD such as ASF entered the U.S., it would likely eliminate this entire valuation to zero for an unknown amount of time, which is why taking steps to prevent it from occurring require immediate action,” according to the National Pork Board.