United States lawmakers continue their work in protecting America’s borders.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is on high alert,” according to Dr. Liz Wagstrom, National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian. However, elected officials look to increase those efforts.
“Customs and Border Protection is on high alert. They have increased the number of agricultural inspectors and their interdiction of illegal meat products coming in. We’re thrilled the U.S. Senate passed, by unanimous consent, a bill that would authorize 60 more canine teams and 600 more agricultural inspectors. And the companion bill is moving through the House of Representatives,” Wagstrom said.
The companion bill this week received additional support, with U.S. Representatives David Rouzer (R-NC 7th District), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE 1st District), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA 1st District) and Josh Harder (D-CA 10th District) signing on as co-sponsors. Dr. Wagstrom believes “we, as a country, are better prepared than we were 18 months ago.” She admits, however, there is still work to be done.
“We recently had an exercise that USDA put together. That was one of the first things we asked for after China went positive, an ASF specific scenario for our state veterinarians and producers to play along with,” Wagstrom said. “There were some gaps that were identified, so now we know where we need to continue to work.”
Preventing African Swine Fever is a team effort. Wagstrom refers producers to the Secure Pork Supply Plan. She also lays out additional ways for producers to protect their herds from the deadly virus, which has yet to reach the United States.
“We’re recommending looking up the Secure Pork Supply Plan at securepork.org. That talks about biosecurity, traffic flow and records you might be expected to share. That’s a good first start,” Wagstrom said. “Second, make sure you have a premise ID and validated that. Third, know your state veterinarians and their field officers. Invite them to your farm and work with them to demonstrate you have an enhanced security plan.”