The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that authorizes funding for 740 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) from entering the United States. In October 2019, the Senate approved an identical version of the bill (S. 2017), which the House approved. Providing additional agricultural inspectors represents a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
“For more than a year, NPPC has advocated for more agricultural inspectors at our borders,” said David Herring, NPPC President , a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have done much to mitigate risk to animal disease, but we must remain vigilant. Today’s vote represents a tremendous victory for our farmers, consumers and the American economy. We thank 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 look forward to the bill’s implementation.”
The legislation also authorizes 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams.
The most likely path for a FAD to enter the country would be through the illegal transport of contaminated products. An outbreak of certain FADs would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, causing significant damage to farmers and consumers. NPPC continues to advocate for other FAD preparedness measures, including quickly establishing a U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill. The United States does not currently have access to enough vaccine to quickly contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak.