The United States, Canada and Mexico are partnering to prevent the African swine fever (ASF) virus from entering their borders.
ASF has been spreading throughout pig farms and wild boar in China and parts of Europe since last summer, and has resulted in the death or culling of hundreds of thousands of pigs. It recently was detected for the first time in Vietnam.
Although ASF does not affect humans, it is highly contagious and deadly among pigs, cannot be cured and has no vaccine.
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Annual Agriculture Outlook Forum this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asked his North American counterparts: “Can the North American countries work together to protect their farmers and their agricultural industries from pests and infectious diseases such as African swine fever?”
Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture Villalobos Arambula said they can: “There is more and more risk because of the communication, because of the export of product, because of trade. We have to strengthen our relationship and we have to strengthen our technical capabilities.”
Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay agreed that the three countries collectively have a lot at stake concerning agriculture and trade.
“I’m very pleased it is brought up here because I fully understand the devastation that can happen if this enters the North American market and any of our countries,” MacAulay said. “This type of thing is so vitally important because it takes one (case) to cost us billions of dollars. I hope we can deal with this issue not after it comes, but before it comes.”
Perdue emphasized that global trade increases the chances of spreading disease from one region to another.
“Sharing the long borders that we do both on the north and south, it’s important that we function together as one,” Perdue said. “All the things that go on in a very mobile world today will only increase the likelihood of things transferring from one nation to another. We are committing even further, based on the most recent African swine fever, to up our game.”
View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.