Secure Pork Supply plan: Beginning steps to safeguard your herd

The US hasn’t encountered a foreign animal disease (FAD) for decades, but it remains a lingering and serious risk as long as countries throughout the world are dealing with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), classical swine fever (CSF) and African swine fever (ASF). The reality is that an FAD would not only stop pig movements within the US, but it would slam the door on pork exports, which account for approximately 25% of annual production.
calendar icon 22 November 2017
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According to an Iowa State University (ISU) study, the potential revenue losses to US pork and beef industries from an FMD outbreak would run $12.8 billion annually or $128 billion over a 10-year period. Looking beyond animal agriculture, associated losses to corn and soybean markets over a decade would be $44 billion and $24.9 billion, respectively.

Enter the Secure Pork Supply (SPS) plan, a voluntary program to enhance communication and coordination of all pork-chain segments to respond quickly and thoroughly to an FAD or other major threat. It was developed by a coalition of pork-industry groups, state and federal animal-health agencies, academia and USDA. [1]

“We’ve had plans in place to address the control and containment of FADs, but the last piece of the puzzle was to address business continuity,” Patrick Webb, DVM, director of swine-health programs for the National Pork Board (NPB), told Pig Health Today. “The SPS plan will allow participating producers to be back in business faster than those who do not participate.”

While official SPS enrollment isn’t expected until 2018, there are steps that producers can take today to be prepared. “All of the pieces are ready,” Webb said. “Many of the strategies are outlined in the PQA Plus program.”

It starts with premise ID

The key to participation is to have a national standardized premises identification number (PIN) tied to each animal site that is separated by more than a quarter of a mile. “The premises ID must reflect the actual location of the animals,” said Pam Zaabel, DVM, with the Center for Food and Health Security at ISU. “It cannot be a house or business office in town.”

PINs (in a barcode format) will need to be on all health papers and interstate movement reports, laboratory diagnostic forms and bills of lading for harvested animals. “PINs also need to be on all movement records of hogs moving into, within and out of a production system,” Webb said. “This includes PINs for the sending and receiving sites for boar-semen shipments.”

The point is to provide state animal-health officials with access to accurate electronic records to assist with disease tracking by premises during an outbreak.

Steps to take today

There really isn’t any reason to wait. “You don’t want to try to figure things out during an outbreak,” Webb said. “While SPS focuses on FADs, it is building an infrastructure that could be used to address other new, emerging diseases if needed.”

Zaabel and Webb offer these steps that pork producers and swine veterinarians can take to prepare for SPS and an FAD today.

  • Train the farm staff to identify FADs. NPB has FAD push packs available for free at “These are designed for barn-level application — how to recognize and report ASF, FMD or CSF,” Webb noted.
  • Outline internal and external reporting instructions for suspect FAD cases. Post these instructions and have any relevant materials at each production site.
  • Record daily observations. This includes entering disease observations into a data-management system. Also, log human and vehicle traffic entering a production site.
  • Have a written biosecurity plan for each pig site. Train staff and verify that biosecurity steps have been implemented. “Herd veterinarians can start by making sure there are reasonable biosecurity measures in place,” Zaabel noted. “Then identify biosecurity measures to apply when an outbreak occurs. We’ve learned there’s a big difference between the biosecurity measures needed for endemic disease and biosecurity for diseases that we don’t have.”
  • Assign a biosecurity manager for the site. “This is something we learned from the high-pathogen avian influenza outbreak,” Zaabel added. Make sure the person is on site, trains employees on the required biosecurity measures and ensures those biosecurity measures are being followed.
  • Outline and train farm staff on surveillance measures. “When an FAD surfaces, animal-health officials and resources will be maxed out,” Zaabel said. “It would be good to have the producer or employees trained in collecting certain kinds of samples such as oral fluids.”
  • Use PINs on all production records and ensure that those records are entered into a data-management software system that can be easily sorted by PIN and exported. “This will require some producers to change how data is stored and shared, but this is critical during a disease outbreak,” Webb added.
  • Have a written animal-welfare plan for stop-movements. “Have an honest conversation with your family, staff or company,” Webb said. “This can quickly become an animal-welfare issue and you need a plan on how to address this.”
  • Outline animal euthanasia and disposal plans for each site. “Make sure you have the people and contracts in place to handle these steps,” Webb added. “For example, if you’re going to compost mortalities, where will you get your carbon source? Think through details like that.”

Business continuity is the end goal

So, practically speaking, how would SPS benefit a producer?

Zaabel offered this example: Suppose an FAD breaks in a specific geographic region in the US. It would mandate a control area is activated to encompass the surrounding 6.2 miles, including all pork-production systems within that area. It would impose animal stop-movements on all farms whether infected or not.

By enrolling in SPS a producer can demonstrate to his/her state animal-health official that certain measures are in place — traceability, biosecurity protocols, records, negative diagnostic results — that would allow the official to evaluate the herd status and allow the producer to move pigs quicker during an outbreak.

“The SPS plan focuses on clearing premises that are caught within an FAD-control area but are not infected by the disease,” she added.

In the end, Webb and Zaabel agreed, securing US pork’s future comes down to three words: plan, share, prepare. Plan to participate in SPS; share your data with the network, using your PIN; prepare to implement the herd-health and biosecurity strategies outlined — before an FAD closes US pork markets.

“The risk of not being able to export pork or move your pigs should be a strong motivator for producers to participate,” Webb concluded.

[1] Webb P, Zaabel P. PORK Academy: Secure Pork Supply Implementation, 2017 World Pork Expo, Des Moines, Iowa.

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