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CEO DATELINE – Pork council cancels trade show out of disease fears

April 17, 2019
By Walt Williams

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The National Pork Producers Council has canceled the upcoming World Pork Expo to prevent the possible spread of a disease deadly to pigs.

NPPC recently announced the decision to call off the expo “out of an abundance of caution” because of an outbreak of African swine fever in China and other parts of Asia. Analysts predict up to 200 million pigs could die from the disease or be culled to prevent its spread, leading to a shortage of pork products across the globe, Reuters news agency reported. The expo was scheduled to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, in June.

“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,” David Herring, NPPC elected president, said in a statement. “The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defense against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States.”

Herring said farmers are asking Congress to fund 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to strengthen the country’s defenses against swine fever.

“Our farmers are highly export dependent,” he said. “An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds. 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.”