Preparing for Foreign Animal Disease

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With the confirmation of African Swine Fever in China, there is heightened awareness about the risk of foreign animal disease. National Pork Board director of swine health programs Patrick Webb is featured in this edition of Pork Pod. Webb outlines the risk of FAD and the resources available from the Pork Checkoff.


Don Wick


Patrick Webb, Director of Swine Health Programs, 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 Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs for the National Pork Board. And with the cases of African Swine Fever being reported in China, certainly heightened awareness about foreign animal diseases. Patrick, what’s your take on the situation?

Patrick Webb: 00:34 Having an increased incidence of ASF in China can increase the risk and so we have to be really, really vigilant anyway, but this is just a good wake up call to say, hey look, you know, there are certain things that we need to do to make sure that we’re protecting our herd here in the United States because we certainly don’t want African Swine Fever here.

Don Wick: 00:56 Remind me about some of the things that have been ongoing to make sure that we are prepared.

Patrick Webb: 01:01 Yeah. One of the things that the Pork Checkoff I think has done well over the years is, you know, we’ve been focusing on these type of preparedness issues for these diseases. As you know, we’ve over the last 10, 15 years really have started to rely on our exports to add significant value back. And so our producers on our Swine Health Committee and our board has over the years been very concerned about any of the foreign animal diseases.

Patrick Webb: 01:31 And so, part of what we’ve done here at the Checkoff is develop those resources to help producers understand the risks and those things that they can do to raise their awareness and preparedness. We’ve got lots and lots of tools available. You know, if a producer is heading overseas, we’ve got fact sheets on, you know, what to do when you’re headed overseas to make sure that you’re maintaining some good biosecurity. If you’re going to host some international visitors, we’ve got fact sheets on that. We also have barn level FAD push packs that are really nice laminated posters that help your employees, you know, understand what would a Foot and Mouth look like or an African Swine Fever look like on the farm, and how would you report. You know, we’ve been focusing on planning for these type of diseases. You know, USDA, they do actually, there is an African Swine Fever response plan and we’ve built the response plans on the industry side to kind of fit hand-in-glove with that.

Patrick Webb: 02:28 We know that if we got African Swine Fever here, the government would, you know, the federal government and the state governments would take the lead and industry would have to play a supportive role. And so, just working on those things from a preparedness side. Now we have all sorts of resources for producers on preparedness and then business continuity. And as we’ve talked before, you know, we’ve got the Secure Pork Supply Plan that’s out there, that producers can go to and learn about business continuity and learn about what program standards are there and how they could implement those programs standards to be a part of that group of Secure Pork Supply.

Don Wick: 03:05 So why does the Pork Checkoff get as involved as it does and what’s it mean to the producers that are listening?

Patrick Webb: 03:12 Well, you know, when we do our vulnerability assessments here on an annual basis, the disruption of trade and commerce is one of our top vulnerabilities. We know that these foreign animal diseases, because of the international rules and regulations, as well as those regulated diseases here, would cause that. And so, that’s where our board and our committees tell us to focus those type of dollars. It’s awareness and preparedness, planning and research. You know, we’ve got a full program area at the National Pork Board that deals specifically with these foreign animal disease threats. But we also have, you know, crisis communications that we do all the time. We’ve worked with the states, our state associations, and we worked at the federal level to do crisis drills on an annual basis dealing with FMD or Classical Swine Fever. You know, these things, our industry takes serious, our board takes serious, and so we do have the resources in order to get into that area and really support our producers with good factual information, and good things for them to be able to hold in their hand, to look at it and say, all right, what can I do to prepare today?

Don Wick: 04:24 Can they find those resources online?

Patrick Webb: 04:26 Certainly, you know, we’ve got resources here at the National Pork Board, And they can also go to the Pork Store. Our Pork Store has the FAD push packs and some other facts sheets that are available there. And they certainly can go ahead and get one of those ordered and sent it to them.

Don Wick: 04:44 Patrick Webb from the National Pork Board. Thank you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, please visit