U.S. Initiatives in Puerto Rico Designed to Protect Mainland United States from ASF and Its Trade Implications

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Farmscape for September 26, 2022

Full Interview 11:51 Listen

The Director of Animal Health with the National Pork Producers Council expects initiatives to protect mainland North America from African Swine Fever to mitigate any trade disruptions if an outbreak occurs in Puerto Rico. In August a group of U.S. veterinarians travelled to Puerto Rico as part of the National Pork Producers Council Swine Veterinarian Public Policy Advocacy Program to get a first-hand look at what is being done on the island to keep the U.S. safe from African Swine Fever. Dr. Anna Forseth, the Director of Animal Health with the National Pork Producers Council, stresses African Swine Fever has not been detected in Puerto Rico but is present in the Dominican Republic and Haiti on the nearby island of Hispaniola.

Clip-Dr. Anna Forseth-National Pork Producers Council:
The U.S. has taken particular interest in the situation because of the proximity of these Caribbean islands to the mainland U.S. but also because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory so there may be trade implications to the U.S. should ASF be detected in Puerto Rico. Now the protection zone, if it should go positive, under the World Organization for Animal Health code, should be recognized by our trading partners and they should accept that the status of the mainland has not changed. Again, the purpose of the protection zone is to mitigate the impacts to trade by showing our trading partners all the things we are doing to minimize the risk that African Swine Fever could travel from Puerto Rico to the U.S. These would include decreasing feral swine populations, on the island of Puerto Rico, significantly increasing surveillance efforts, requiring travelers coming to the mainland to get their luggage inspected by USDA for the presence of meat products.
The protection zone is intended to mitigate the impacts and we are hoping that our trading partners recognize the significant efforts underway.

Dr. Forseth encourages mainland pork producers to stay informed and to take advantage of programs offered to help prepare for a foreign animal disease.

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