President Donald Trump signed legislation on Tuesday to protect the U.S. pork industry from the threat of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) virus through expanded agricultural inspections.
S. 2107, the “Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019,” authorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire additional agricultural specialists, agricultural technicians and canine inspection teams to improve the security of the nation’s food supply.
"Ensuring we have enough agricultural inspectors at our borders is critical to maintaining a healthy U.S. swine herd," said National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., in a release. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have done much to mitigate the risk to animal disease. Bolstered by this legislation, even more resources will be available to strengthen biosecurity at our borders. This is a victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy."
Providing additional agricultural inspectors represents a top priority for NPPC.
"NPPC thanks Congressional leadership, led by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) and Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), for their strong leadership on this issue, and President Trump for signing this essential bill into law. We look forward to working with Congress on appropriations to make sure CBP is fully funded to ensure the benefits of S. 2107 are fully realized," Herring added.
The bill, led by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) and introduced in the House of Representatives last September, passed unanimously in the House in February after advancing in the Senate last October.
“I’m pleased that the President has signed our legislation to ensure we have enough resources to protect our border from African swine fever and other animal diseases,” Axne said in a release. “We’ve seen diseases such as African swine fever destroy hog populations throughout the world. An outbreak in Iowa, which leads the nation in producing nearly one-third of all U.S. hogs, would be devastating to an industry that is an economic driver and job creator across our state.”
As many as half of China’s entire breeding pig population died or were slaughtered because of the recent spread of ASF. In recent days, the spread of the disease has also been reported in the Philippines and Greece, and ongoing outbreaks have also been reported in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and South Africa.
“Prevention is literally the only option that we have right now,” Axne told Chip Flory on AgriTalk in February. “And this is not just for Iowa, of course, but it's very important for Iowa with our role in pork production, but certainly for other states with pork production as well.”
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