Not Letting Our Guard Down on African Swine Fever
By Nick Giordano, NPPC vice president and counsel of global government affairs
via FarmJournal's Pork - October 15, 2020
In September, Germany reported its first case of African swine fever (ASF) in a wild boar. Since then, the number of cases has soared above 50 and climbing. In just the first week, German pork exports were suspended to a number of its biggest markets, including China, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. Germanyís outbreak of the swine-only disease is an ever-present reminder that the United States needs to remain vigilant to ensure ASF and other foreign animal diseases (FADs) donít enter the country.
Unfortunately, a serious lapse in inspection funding is putting the United States in a dangerous position that could have significant consequences for livestock producers and all of agriculture.
U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously. Without a prompt resolution, there will be an estimated $630 million shortfall in AQI funding through the end of fiscal year 2021.
U.S. agriculture inspectors are the first line of defense to protect livestock producers from ASF and other FADs. If there is insufficient funding for these essential inspectors at our borders and ports, the nationís $1 trillion agriculture sector is at significant risk. For livestock producers, if a FAD were to enter the U.S. swine herd, it would cause billions in losses due to animal deaths, depopulation, disposal and cleanup costs. It would also immediately close the export markets on which U.S. pork producers depend.
U.S. pork producers are already suffering considerable losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If ASF or another FAD entered our country, the results would be catastrophic. We cannot let our guard down.
NPPC has been leading efforts and sounding the alarm...