Secretary Vilsack lays out his blueprint for biosecurity as ASF concerns loom

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack was questioned by the House Agriculture Committee on the agency’s response to combat African swine fever. This comes as the deadly pig disease has been found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Officials are currently trying to eliminate the hog herds on the entire island,in order to eradicate it from the swine population.

Vilsack detailed some of USDA’s efforts there and what is in the works to keep it from spreading to U.S. territories.

“It’s important for us to minimize and to eliminate the risk at its source, which is why we’re working with the Dominican Republic and the Haitians to address the issues as it exists in their countries today, and provide them assistance and help, both technological assistance and financial assistance, to do the job right in minimizing and ultimately eliminating the risk in those two countries. We’ve also asked for OAE to establish a protective zone around Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, so that we can do this otherwise there will be no imports coming in from those two areas into the mainland of the U.S. OAE has never had an application for protective zone protection. So, they’re going to take a little time to look at our application, but we’re moving forward on that. We are shoring up and beefing up our surveillance, our detection systems; I think we are in place without with the systems that we have in place, it should, God forbid this happen, that we would be able to identify it quickly, we would be able to eradicate it quickly, we would be able to contain the damage to protect a state or region of the country. We will do everything we possibly can to make sure this doesn’t get to our shores and to be able to respond as quickly as possible, should it get to our shores... There’s no vaccine yet so it’s not like we can stockpile vaccines, but obviously as I said earlier, we’re working on the development of a vaccine and hope to get that as quickly as possible.”

If ASF does spread to Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, it will be considered the same as being on the mainland U.S. and would affect our exports.


NPPC reacts to ASF in Dominican Republic

ASF was in the DR a full month before confirmation