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Secure Pork Supply plan updated to meet changing FAD needs

Even though the US hasn’t faced a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak in decades, the threat is always there. With African swine fever (ASF) well established in China and parts of Europe, US pork producers need to take steps now to protect their interests in the face of an outbreak.

The first one, specialists say, is to become familiar with the voluntary Secure Pork Supply (SPS) plan, which is a business-continuity plan providing preparation steps to take before an outbreak. Other species such as beef and poultry have similar voluntary plans as well.

As can be expected, SPS is a living document and it is continuously being reviewed and updated. Pam Zaabel, DVM, with the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, is on the team overseeing that effort.

“Everything that we’ve been working on for SPS has included the involvement of federal and state animal-health officials, the industry and academia,” Zaabel told Pig Health Today. “So, it’s been quite a team — a lot of back and forth.”

User-friendly updates

With more than a year’s worth of trials, the SPS has received a series of substantial updates, all designed to be more user friendly, advance preparedness and enhance the FAD-outbreak response when needed.

It starts with a totally revamped website, where defined categories for producers, veterinarians, packers, regulatory officials and training make it easy for the individual to find the exact information he or she needs.

“So, producers can go directly to the ‘pork producer’ section…and they can find all the information they need to start participating in Secure Pork,” Zaabel pointed out. “They can go to the ‘biosecurity’ section and see what it takes to write their site-specific biosecurity plan.”

Special items for producers include a manual outlining in-depth details and a checklist illustrating what needs to be included in a biosecurity plan. There’s also a template that producers can use to write and implement the plan.

There are short (4 to 7 minutes) training videos, which are presented in English and Spanish, on such topics as biosecurity and disease recognition. “We have a new FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) video,” Zaabel noted, “that shows what happens if we were to become infected; what it would look like; how it’s spread; that sort of thing.”

There’s also guidance for employees to understand what they can do to minimize the risks as they come to work every day, such as what not to bring into the production site and why.

All of the SPS resources are free. Zaabel acknowledged that biosecurity programs take time, but taking a step-by-step approach can make it more manageable.

“I think as people look through the checklists, they’ll realize how many of the things that they’re already doing,” she added. Organizers are not asking producers to rewrite their biosecurity plans, just to ensure that FADs are part of the plan. In fact, the SPS team worked with the National Pork Board (NPB) to revise the Pork Quality Assurance Plus forms so that they could accommodate SPS as well.

Of course, there are aspects in the biosecurity plan that are more specific to FADs, such as a cleaning/disinfection station.

“That’s not something they’re necessarily going to have now,” Zaabel noted. “We ask them to write where they’re going to put it; where the supplies are coming from; how they’re going to inventory items; how they’re going to manage it.”

It’s all part of being prepared in advance. “We all know that biosecurity is like an insurance policy,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to measure exactly what it’s worth to you until you really need it.”

Steps to take today

“Right now, we’re encouraging producers to start implementing it [SPS] on their production site. So, it’s a matter of writing that biosecurity plan, getting trained in biosecurity and learning about different diseases,” Zaabel said.

These steps include assigning an on-site biosecurity manager — someone who will ensure that biosecurity practices are in compliance. Also identify swine-health monitors who would be trained and charged with looking for signs of FADs every day.

“They’re already looking at pigs for signs of disease,” she added. “We just want them to make sure they look for FMD, CSF (classical swine fever) and ASF.” Posters for the barn are available, showing clinical signs of the various diseases.

Another step for producers to take today is to make sure that they have valid premises identification numbers (PIN), which must reflect where the animals are actually located. Then start using the PIN on diagnostic lab submissions and associated records.

More actions coming

The NPB is funding work with AgView on a secured database, expected by the first quarter of the year, where producers can start entering their information.

“They can start entering their PIN, their biosecurity information and so on,” Zaabel noted. The point is for the database to enhance industry response efforts and state and federal animal officials’ access in the event of an FAD outbreak.

Another major step is a sample-collection certification program, designed to expedite on-site testing and assist animal-health officials during an FAD outbreak. It is another training program where individuals on the production site will be certified to accurately collect and submit samples for FAD testing. This option would be particularly helpful during an outbreak when veterinary resources would be stretched thin. Both the farm and industry would benefit from a biosecurity standpoint, and it would assist producers with uninfected herds that are requesting an animal-movement permit.

Also, on the SPS priority list is providing FAD guidance for outdoor production. “Most of what we’ve done is developed for animals raised indoors,” Zaabel pointed out. “So now we’re starting to develop a checklist for animals that are raised outdoors.”

While everyone within the pork industry needs to work on FAD preparedness, “there are no guarantees,” Zaabel said. What the SPS offers are guidelines “because every outbreak is different.

“The state and federal officials are going to make decisions based on what the outbreak looks like,” she added. “But the idea behind Secure Pork is that we help position producers so they can be prepared to ask for that [animal] movement permit.” And to restore domestic and world markets as quickly and safely as possible.

Posted on April 4, 2019

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