Monday, March 09, 2020

USDA announces African swine fever plan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday a plan to deal with African swine fever if the fatal disease shows up in the United States. If a hogs in the U.S. tests positive for the disease, the USDA will halt all hogs shipments for at least three days, according to a press release. That would prevent farmers from delivering hogs to slaughterhouses.

The U.S. government is trying to "avoid the type of devastation seen in China, where the disease has reduced the herd by more than 40 percent and pushed pork prices to record highs. Since the China outbreak, African swine fever has broken out in 10 countries in Asia," Tom Polansek reports for Reuters. An outbreak could devastate the nation's $7 billion pork export market, especially when it's poised to become the largest export to China.

If an infected hog is detected, the USDA will lead a coordinated effort with state governments and the pork industry to contain the spread of the disease. If a farmer has an infected hog, the USDA recommends slaughtering it, then burying or composting it. "To reduce paperwork, USDA plans to pay for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of affected premises," according to the press release.

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