Americas prepare for African swine fever outbreak

An invite-only forum will bring industry professionals and government officials together in the hopes of creating a plan in the event of an ASF outbreak in the Americas.

Promotive |

As countries continue to announce new outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF), the world's livestock industry sits in anticipation of what’s next and what it could mean for trade and pork production.

An ASF forum will take place April 30 and May 1 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with the intentions of bringing together industry leaders and government officials to discuss the potential of ASF coming to the Americas.

Invited attendees from 15 countries are expected to attend the event, iPolitics reported. A total of 150 participants are expected.

“ASF is going to change the face of animal ag and the protein accretion industry for the rest of our lives,” said Joe Kerns, president at Kerns and Associates during the Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 16.

The forum is designed to help those attending learn from the recent ASF outbreaks that have impacted Europe and Asia. Leaders and officials will have enhanced conversation on “ASF in the Americas and to explore four key areas for action: preparedness planning, enhanced biosecurity, ensuring business continuity and coordinated risk communication,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported.

The forum will include a mixture of panel and interactive discussions to generate a consensus on short-, medium- and long-term plans for regional prevention and readiness activities. The goal is that the countries in the Americas can come to a unified decision on action strategies.

“Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau first announced Canada’s plans to host the global forum in March during a media event in Quebec where she unveiled new funding earmarked for additional detector dogs at Canadian airports to deter illicit meat imports. Scientists have determined the virus can live for as long as 399 days in deli meats, while infected frozen products could keep the virus preserved for years,” the iPolitics report said.

iPolitics reported that during an email conversation on April 18, Bibeau’s office said: “China and the United States are among the nations expected to attend next week’s forum. Officials from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and the Czech Republic have also said they plan to attend.”

If ASF hits the US

If ASF hits the U.S., it will be detrimental to the U.S. meat industry.

“We will have to lose 25% of our producers overnight,” Kerns said.

Multiple leaders within the pork industry are working to put a plan into place should the U.S. get hit. Kerns said there is about a 3% chance of natural causes contaminating the U.S. with ASF.

If it happens, he said, everything about a rosy and prosperous pork market outlook goes out the window and suppliers will be impacted too.

“Everything about this scares the daylights out of me,” said Kerns.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

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