The National Pork Producers Council in the United States has cancelled the World Pork Expo planned for June in Des Moines, Iowa, because of fears of spreading African swine fever.
The council’s board of directors took the unprecedented move in recognition that ASF continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia, as well as eastern Europe.
World Pork Expo, held each June in Des Moines, hosts about 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF positive regions.
“While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution,” said David Herring, NPPC president and a producer from Lillington, North Carolina.
“The health of the United States swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defence against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”
NPPC today announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo out of an abundance of caution as African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread. Prevention is our only defense against ASF & NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the U.S. https://t.co/dq5FJSGWzq
— NPPC (@NPPC) April 10, 2019
The decision to cancel this year’s World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S. pork producers gathered in Washington to meet with members of Congress.
To augment the USDA’s efforts to protect the U.S. from ASF and other animal diseases, pork producers are asking Congress for appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to strengthen defences.
“Our farmers are highly export dependent. An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds,” said Herring.
“The retaliatory tariffs we currently face in some of our largest export markets due to trade disputes are among the factors that prompted a conservative decision regarding World Pork Expo. U.S. pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions.”
The World Pork Expo was last cancelled in the United Kingdom in 2001 because of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak there.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig supported NPPC’s decision to cancel the expo as did the National Pork Board.