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Project to look for gaps in US pork industry biosecurity

A 12-month-long collaborative project aims to identify gaps in U.S. pork industry national biosecurity.

Biosecure Area
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National Swine Disease Council will oversee project, funded by National Pork Board and Swine Health Information Center

The National Pork Board (NPB) and Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) are funding a 12-month-long project, with the collaboration of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, to identify gaps in U.S. pork industry national biosecurity.

The goal of this project is to prevent entry of foreign animal disease (FAD) into the country by addressing the identified biosecurity gaps. The National Swine Disease Council (NSDC) represents all of these organizations collectively and provides oversight to the project. After a competitive proposal process, the NSDC awarded EpiX Analytics of Fort Collins, Colorado, with the project.

As the industry has witnessed the recent spread of African swine fever (ASF) in Russia, Europe and Asia as well as the distraction of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it served as a stark reminder of protecting the U.S. pork industry from FADs. The economic repercussions of the introduction of FADs into the U.S are enormous, making it imperative to protect the industry.

“The National Pork Board supports the leadership provided by the National Swine Disease Council in making this decision to fund research designed to improve the industry’s biosecurity capabilities,” said Dave Pyburn, chief veterinarian with the Pork Checkoff. “The council, led by producers, is doing a great job in moving quickly to keep important work like this moving forward during this stressful time in the industry.”

In announcing the award of the funding, Dr. Paul Sundberg, SHIC executive director, stated: “This project will create a rigorous, science- and risk-based foundation for looking at the domestic pork industry. The information developed from this study will help producers to protect their industry and continue their worldwide competitiveness. We believe identification and prioritization of biosecurity gaps will not only protect the industry from ASF and other FADs, it may also improve efficiency of production by reducing the impact of endemic swine diseases.”

The project will identify and prioritize biosecurity gaps within the U.S. pork industry, and provide direction for corrective or additional measures of value. In the process, EpiX Analytics will point out potential mechanisms through which FADs can be introduced, spread and affect the domestic pork industry, employing a unique approach including:

  • A risk-based analysis considering probability and impact
  • Building on established, peer-reviewed and validated framework
  • Being grounded in science and evidence
  • Incorporating expertise and data from the U.S. industry

ASF will be used as a model for other FADs due to the virus’s resiliency as well as the great concern surrounding it in the industry. Among the many areas being considered for study are foreign imports, entry of foreign travelers, domestic transportation of animals, common inputs to U.S. production, domestic market channels and others. The outcomes will include details if biosecurity gaps are identified, including data sources and uncertainty in risk estimates.

This joint project reflects the commitment of SHIC, NPB, NPPC, AASV, and the National Swine Disease Council to serve and inform U.S. pork producers. Concern over the possibility of ASF reaching the U.S. drives this study, which is anticipated deliver benefits for prevention, production and security.

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