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World Pork Expo Cancelled
The National Pork Producers Council’s board of directors today announced its decision to cancel the World Pork Expo 2019 out of an abundance of caution, as African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia. The World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is currently no vaccine to treat the swine disease.
“While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution,” said David Herring, NPPC president and a producer from Lillington, North Carolina. “The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defense against ASF, and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”
Could destroy the industry
The announcement likely comes as a relief to swine veterinarians. In an interview with Successful Farming on March 27, Paul Thomas, an associate veterinarian wtih AMVC Management Services, Audubon, Iowa, said this: “I am concerned about the risk of African swine fever at World Pork Expo. With the international visitors and the live animal shows, it is possible to spread disease. A foreign animal disease could destroy the entire industry. If ASF gets into the U.S., it will affect everyone because of the impact on exports.”
The decision to cancel this year’s World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S pork producers gather in Washington this week to meet with their members of Congress during NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference. To augment the USDA’s efforts to protect the United States from ASF and other animal diseases, U.S. pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen our defenses against African swine fever.
“Our farmers are highly export dependent,” Herring said. “An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds. The retaliatory tariffs we currently face in some of our largest export markets due to trade disputes are among the factors that prompted a conservative decision regarding World Pork Expo. U.S. pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions.”
Herring added, “The widespread presence of African swine fever in China’s swine herd, the world’s largest by far, takes the threat of this swine disease to an entirely new level. We ask all producers, travelers, and the general public to recognize the heightened risk since the first outbreak was reported in China last year and to heed biosecurity protocols in support of U.S. agriculture.”
“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.”
“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S. But any risk needs to be managed – and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board,” Rommereim said. “This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”
Rommereim encourages all U.S. pig farmers to review the foreign animal disease preparation checklist and biosecurity steps to take, among other materials located on pork.org/fad.
African swine fever is a viral disease that causes high mortality in domestic and wild pigs. It spreads through close contact with infected animals or their excretions, or through feeding uncooked contaminated meat to susceptible pigs. African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks.
About World Pork Expo
Hosted by NPPC since 1987, World Pork Expo is the world’s largest pork industry-specific trade show in the world. It brings together pork producers and other industry professionals from around the world for three days of education, innovation, and networking.