The Department of Agriculture recently released a plan that would allow for a nationwide hog standstill in the event of a potential outbreak of African Swine Fever in the United States.

The plan was announced Friday by Greg Ibach, USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. In addition to the standstill provisions — which would be in effect for at least 72 hours — the plan also gives the ag secretary the authority to declare an emergency and make USDA the point agency on “the availability of funding and additional resources necessary for the response.”

USDA would also work with state and local authorities in the event depopulation and carcass disposal becomes necessary and plans to reduce paperwork by paying “for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of affected premises.”  

In a statement, Ibach said the additional measures “will strengthen our ability to quickly and effectively respond to the disease if detected here at home.”

Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, said putting USDA at the helm of the response means “protocols would be largely harmonized across states,” something that would ease response in the event of an outbreak. But she said there’s also unanswered questions such as “packing plants that are within control zones and what will be the acceptance of product coming out of those plants by our trading partners.”

The disease has ravaged pork production in parts of Asia and Europe but has not been detected in North America.

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