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North America Cooperates to Prevent ASF
USAgNet - 10/28/2020

African Swine Fever was a key topic at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Tri-National Agricultural Accord last week. Delegates from Canada, the United States and Mexico attended the 29th annual event virtually.

"The thing that was really positive with our trinational meeting with regard to ASF is that we have really good dialogue going between the three countries," Blayne Arthur told Farms.com. She's the secretary of Oklahoma's Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and NASDA's animal agriculture committee chair. She moderated a breakout session about ASF at the meeting.

According to Farms.com, officials from all three nations "understand the potential impact ... of ASF and, really, any foreign animal disease to our livestock industries," she said.

Top veterinary representatives from each country discussed central components of ASF prevention and preparedness. Dr. Jack Shere, associate administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and former USDA chief veterinary officer (CVO), represented the United States. He worked with Dr. Jaspinder Komal, CVO of Canada, and Dr. Juan Gay Gutierrez, CVO for Mexico.

Those three officials "collaborate frequently because the disease doesn't know any boundaries, as far as moving from one country to a another. So, we must have that continual dialogue and communication," Arthur explained. These officials seek to keep ASF out of North America "but then also to be as prepared as possible to respond if necessary."

Officials across North America have a strong focus on prevention and preparedness.

However, if an outbreak occurred in North America, "all of the countries are preparing to respond to foreign animal diseases because they are so devastating to the livestock industry," she added.

American poultry producers had experiences with avian influenza outbreaks, but chickens and turkeys are much smaller to dispose of than hogs, Arthur said. Industry experts are investigating options for "carcass disposal and identifying locations and the best methods. (These experts are also) coordinating with the American Veterinary Medical Association," she added.

So far, North American governments and producers have successfully kept ASF out of the continent.


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