African Swine Fever Risk: Imported Feed Ingredients

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With the expansion of the African swine fever outbreak in China, the Pork Checkoff is working with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the Swine Health Information Center and USDA to keep the disease out of the United States. This includes a focus on imported feed ingredients as a significant risk. National Pork Board vice president of science and technology Dr. David Pyburn says a viral disease pathogen has the potential to survive the shipping process. A new risk assessment resources is available at


Don Wick


David Pyburn, Vice President of Science and Technology, National Pork Board




Don Wick: 00:00 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines, Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff. And today our guest is Dr. David Pyburn, who is the Pork Checkoff vice president of Science and Technology. The expansion of African Swine Fever in China, the Pork Checkoff is working collaboratively with others in the industry and within government to keep this disease out of the United States. And that includes the focus on imported feed ingredients as a significant risk. Dr. Pyburn, what’s your take on this possibility?

David Pyburn: 00:46 Yeah, that’s right Don, you know, with some Checkoff funded research, the Pipestone organization up in Minnesota. They put together a research proposal that was funded by the producers, looking at, and this was after PED, but we were looking at feed ingredients and the potential for viral transmission. So not just PED, not just ASF, but the potential for viral transmission in imported feed stuffs. And, so that was funded a couple of years ago. It’s been published since, and in that publication you’ll see that there’s a number of different ingredients including some soybean meal, some of our amino acids, some of our other minerals that we get from overseas that have the potential to support viral transmission all the way from China to the US. So it, it really concerns us now with ASF on the loose in China.

Don Wick: 01:37 When you think about a shipment and how long some of these feed ingredients would be in transit, really a pathogen can last that kind of, that kind of time and distance.

David Pyburn: 01:49 Yeah. The work was done by Dr. Scott Dee up at Pipestone and it was some amazing work. He’s got a chamber up there that’s an environmental chamber where he can go in and he can simulate that crossing of the ocean with a number of same number of days with those ingredients. So that’s what he did. He took each ingredient, he spiked it with different viruses and then he simulated across Atlantic travel to see what would survive that travel. And in doing so, he found a number of ingredients that could cross all the way from China, spend that time in a ship and make it all the way to the Midwest and end up in front of our animals.

Don Wick: 02:29 So what does a pig farmer do to make sure that they are protected in a situation like this with the risk of talking about?

David Pyburn: 02:38 So that’s what we’ve been working on this week is we’re putting together a risk assessment and it’s coming out today, Don it’ll be available on our website at and it kind of guides the producers through a questionnaire with their feed suppliers. Find out where your feed ingredients are coming from, find out what’s in your feed ingredients, determine the level of risk that could be in your feed, if there are alternatives that are of lower risk then the suggestion would be to switch to those lower alternatives.

Don Wick: 03:10 We’ve always been alert to foreign animal disease, but certainly this just heightens that concern.

David Pyburn: 03:17 Yeah, it really heightened when it broken China because a lot of the evidence on PED and where we seeing PED from, when you look at the genetic makeup of PED, you look at how it, how it got transmitted in the US. A lot of the evidence is that it may have very well come from China. And so once a ASF broke, they’re in the same province as where PED most likely came from. We were very concerned that a ASF could make its way here the same way.

Don Wick: 03:46 So Dave, certainly this isn’t a human health concern, it’s not a food safety issue, but what kind of impact does this have on the producer if a foreign animal disease like an ASF was to be found in the US?

David Pyburn: 04:00 Yeah. Let’s break that down into two parts. The first part is you’re exactly right. This disease does not infect or affect humans. This is a disease only of swine. So that’s the good news part of what you just said. This is not a food safety issue. This is not a human health issue. When you talk about African Swine Fever now, the bad thing is you started to ask about what could be the impact for our industry, for our producers. Dermot Hayes up at Iowa State University did a recent study where he looked at just that. What is the economic impact of ASF making its way to the United States and shutting down trade, which it would as soon as we get it. And his estimate, and I think it’s probably somewhat conservative, was that in the first year, our industry would lose $8, billion, that’s B billion dollars in that first year and that’s just for our industry. That’s not taking into account what other industries that rely on our producers would lose as well, such as the feed industry.

Don Wick: 04:55 Again, just to reemphasize that risk assessment now available at Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit