USDA suspends hog movement in Caribbean

USDA suspends hog movement in Caribbean

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In an effort to protect the US swine herd from African swine fever, pigs and pig products cannot be moved from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to the mainland

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has suspended movement of pigs and pig products from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland to protect the country’s swine herd from African swine fever (ASF).

In an order dated September 17, APHIS said it was suspending the interstate movement of all live swine, swine germplasm, swine products, and swine byproducts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, effective immediately, until APHIS can establish sufficient mitigations to authorize such movement.

APHIS said it was “taking this action out of an abundance of caution to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd and protect the interests and livelihoods of U.S. pork producers.” ASF was detected in the Dominican Republic in July, the first time the disease had been detected in the Western hemisphere in 40 years.

APHIS said that the proximity of the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as other factors including the frequency of passenger travel, international mail shipments and the frequency of small-scale commercial agriculture trade in the region, increase the risk of spreading ASF from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In late August, APHIS established a foreign animal disease (FAD) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

US lawmakers seek funding for ASF prevention

In a letter sent to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on September 16, members of the House Agriculture Committee requested prioritized funding to prevent and prepare for a possible ASF outbreak in the U.S.

“Significant investments to prevent ASF are necessary now to ensure that pork producers in our districts and across the country do not suffer the severe consequences of a potential ASF outbreak in the United States,” the letter said.

The letter requested US$75 million for additional staff for the APHIS-Veterinary Service field force, funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and funding for the National Veterinary Stockpile for large animal depopulation and disposal equipment.

Signing the letter were House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Georgia), panel members Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois), Jim Costa (D-California), Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) and G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina).

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) commended the request.

“We need to be prepared to deal with this disease, which would be devastating to pork producers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson in a statement. “It’s critical that USDA have adequate funds to address ASF, so NPPC and the 60,000-plus pork producers it represents are grateful to the lawmakers who made this funding request to Speaker Pelosi.”