Are You Ready for Foreign Animal Disease?

By Patrick Webb, DVM, Assistant Chief Veterinarian, National Pork Board

If you’re a pork producer in 2022, you’re well aware of ongoing issues and challenges that face your operation and your industry. Unfortunately, one of these is the constant threat of foreign animal diseases (FADs) such as African Swine Fever (ASF).

Today, ASF is as close to the United States as the island nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti—both just one short boat or plane ride from our mainland. This brings the FAD threat much closer than it’s been in over 40 years and makes a recent Iowa State University study’s conclusion more frightening.

It calculated the hypothetical impact from an ASF outbreak to be as costly as $50 billion to the US pork industry if not controlled for 10 years.

It’s About Reducing Risk

Everyone can help protect our national herd from FAD by enhancing their own farm’s biosecurity plan.

It does require an investment, however. I believe that our industry cannot afford to not adopt the best biosecurity procedures and tools that we have available.

While some of these steps of reducing disease transmission are not new, others are. This includes new software integration of industry tools that can make your FAD preparation easier and more comprehensive to better protect your animals, your employees and your business’s ability to operate.

They include:

  • Moving pigs from a clean trailer to a clean barn;
  • Installing showers and washers and dryers on each farm site so employees enter and leave the sites clean;
  • Maintaining strict feed and feed ingredient biosecurity;
  • Completing the Secure Pork Supply Plan (securepork.org);
  • Creating an AgView account and regularly updating location and pig movement data. (Your PigCHAMP data can move into AgView seamlessly.) (porkcheckoff.org/agview);
  • Learning more about US Swine Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) (usswinehealthimprovementplan.com).

AgView: A Critical Part of Preparedness

AgView is a free, opt-in technology solution from the National Pork Board that helps producers of all sizes and types provide disease status updates and pig movement data to state animal health officials.

This promotes business continuity for America’s pig farmers by uniquely making disease traceback and pig movement data available to the USDA and state animal health officials on day one of an FAD.

In less than two years, AgView has evolved to provide more preparedness opportunities because it can provide real-time data from participating farms to state animal health officials in the event of a crisis.

This ability can be a game-changer for not only the producers who use AgView, but for our industry that currently markets nearly 30 percent of our pork and pork products overseas.

It’s critical that we keep those export markets open, and AgView will help us in that effort as one part of an overall, comprehensive FAD mitigation and business continuity plan at the local, state, and national levels.

For those who have heard about the new US SHIP program, AgView fits very nicely with it since it can record and supply biosecurity protocols, provide accurate and precise ID information, traceability, and lab test requirements.

Also, because PigCHAMP is an Application Programming Interface (API) that partners with AgView, adopting AgView is much easier for any producer who currently uses the PigCHAMP recordkeeping system.

This allows relevant data to automatically synchronize, meaning there’s no additional effort by most users to fully integrate their location and movement information.

Finally, the National Pork Board urges producers to adopt AgView as part of the FAD risk mitigation strategy to help the pork industry rapidly contain and/or regionalize the impact of an outbreak.

This will protect every producer’s business while continuing to build trust for our customers overseas who rely on a steady supply of high-quality US pork.

For additional information on how to interface your PigCHAMP data with AgView, e-mail PigCHAMP at sales@pigchamp.com or call 1-866-774-4242.

Industry Unites to Promote AgView

When it comes to working together to help protect the US pork industry, collaboration is critical. That is why the National Pork Board (NPB), along with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) continue to work cross-functionally to ensure complete alignment on strategies and tactics to help prevent and prepare for foreign animal diseases such as African swine fever (ASF).

“Along with our partners at USDA and US Customs and Border Protection, the pork industry is united in its commitment to do everything it can to help keep our country free of foreign animal disease,” said Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, chief veterinarian at NPB. “We’re also excited to have tools such as AgView that can help reduce the negative impact of a disease such as ASF by providing critical real-time information to state animal health officials when it’s most needed.”

Dr. Paul Sundberg, executive director of SHIC, agreed that AgView is a vital new tool. “As SHIC monitors swine disease outbreaks around the globe, we see the need for technology such as AgView as part of a preparedness/response strategy for foreign animal disease threats to the domestic swine herd. Learning from those who have faced disease challenge better equips the US pork industry to respond if needed and AgView puts needed resources in place.”

Echoing Sundberg’s sentiments, Dr. Liz Wagstrom, NPPC’s chief veterinarian said, “To effectively respond to a foreign animal disease, we will need to know where pigs are, where they came from and where they are moving. AgView allows us to visualize sites and movements and having producers use it now brings us another step closer to being prepared for a potential outbreak.”

The optimism in the swine veterinary community is also high for AgView.

Dr. Harry Snelson, AASV executive director added: “AASV member veterinarians can help ensure business continuity in the swine industry by encouraging their clients to participate in the National Pork Board’s AgView platform. Veterinary clinics can also facilitate a rapid disease response by utilizing the Account Management Partner (AMP) feature of AgView, which enables near real-time access to client data and laboratory results. Rapid data access and sharing is critical to effectively responding to a foreign animal disease outbreak.”