Countries collaborate on plan to combat ASF in the Americas

Statements from Canada's Chief Veterinary Officer regarding how the Americas will react should ASF hit the region.

Veterinarian doctor examining pigs at a pig farm. Intensive pig farming. Pig farm worker.

An African swine fever (ASF) forum recently brought together industry leaders and government officials to discuss the potential of the disease coming to the Americas. The forum took place April 30 and May 1 in Ottawa, Canada.

The invitation-only event included 150 participants from 15 countries, with the primary goal to keep the Americas free of ASF in order to maintain a prosperous pork industry in the region.

The forum was designed to help those attending learn from the recent ASF outbreaks that have affected Europe and Asia. Leaders and officials came together to discuss “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 Canadian Food Inspection Agency's chief veterinary officer (CVO) for Canada, Jaspinder Komal, accompanied by Jack Shere, CVO for the United States and Juan Gay Gutierrez, CVO for Mexico, issued statements about the ASF forum.

The plan they created lays the foundation for “a high state of readiness to swiftly control ASF should it enter the Americas region, strengthening biosecurity measures to prevent the entry of ASF and mitigate its spread, establishing agreements in the swine sector to mitigate the trade impacts of ASF and effective communications to best inform Canadians and our neighboring countries about the risk of ASF,” Komal’s statement said.

Through their discussions at the forum, professionals identified several significant partnerships and governance options to advance the implementation of the mutually developed outline at the regional, or the Americas, level, as well as at the sub-regional and national levels, Komal said.

“The forum is not the end of our work together, as we have found areas where more exploration is needed,” he said.

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,” said Joe Kerns, president at Kerns and Associates, during the Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 16.

Same could be said for Canada, which is the is the third-largest pork exporting country in value and volume and represents about 20% of world pork trade.

Canada's specific approach

The Canadian government has these specific plans in place: “Providing new funding of up to $31 million to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports, implementing additional import control measures to prevent infected plant-based feed ingredients from ASF-affected countries from entering Canada, and engaging international partners on approaches to zoning, so that trade disruptions can be minimized, should ASF enter Canada,” a National Hog Farmer report said. 

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

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