(Kansas City) -- USDA’s priority is to keep African Swine Fever out of the country, but plans were announced during the National Pork Industry Forum to deal with the disease if it would be found.

USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said these steps will strengthen the ability to quickly and effectively respond to ASF if it was detected in the United States.

“First of all, we will take steps immediately to have the Secretary declare an extra ordinary emergency, that means we will manage it as a nation versus state-by-state. And, this will give as the ability to have uniformity between states. That’s how we manage the disease and we think that will be much more efficient and effective. We’ve also announced that we will have a national standstill for 72 hours at the minimum to give us time to stop the disease from spreading, to be able to control it and contain it and be able to try to assess what the pockets are that have been exposed or are at risk, and whether or not there are areas of the United States that we will be able to continue to allow movement and business as usual. Hopefully, we would be able to identify some of those.”

In addition, USDA plans to work with states and the pork industry on appropriate depopulation plans. To reduce paperwork, the Agriculture Department plans to pay for virus elimination with a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of the affected premises. Even with this proactive plan, Ibach remains confident the U.S. can prevent ASF from entering the country.

“The epidemiology for foot and mouth disease is very similar to ASF. So, as we’ve had success keeping foot and mouth disease out of the United States for nearly 100 years now with, quite frankly, a lot less focus on the rigor that we had in place with those protocols than we have today, I think that we have optimism with the additional focus we’ve put on those regiments that we can be effective.”

Finally, ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting pigs that has not been detected in the U.S. ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.

For more information, producers can contact the Pork Checkoff Service Center. Go to Pork-dot org or call 800-456-PORK.

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