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Protecting the U.S. from foreign ag diseases

Protecting the U.S. from foreign ag diseases

President Trump authorized the hiring of more agricultural inspectors

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The U.S. government is taking measures to keep a serious swine disease out of the country.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019.

The Senate bill, which was introduced in July, authorizes U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire 240 new agricultural specialists per fiscal year until the number of specialists meets the needs documented in the Agriculture Resource Allocation Model.

The piece of legislation also allows for the hiring of 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 ag canine teams.

The inspectors will be stationed at land, sea and air points of entry and will help protect the country from foreign animal diseases like African swine fever (ASF).

To date, cases of ASF have been confirmed in several countries in Europe and Asia.

The disease hasn’t made its way to the U.S., and these additional ag inspectors will help ensure ASF doesn’t enter the country.

“Ensuring we have enough agricultural inspectors at our borders is critical to maintaining a healthy U.S. swine herd,” David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a March 4 statement. “Bolstered by this legislation, even more resources will be made available to strengthen biosecurity at our borders. This is a victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy.”

In China, where the outbreak began in 2018, an estimated 350 million pigs have been lost because of ASF.

Keeping the U.S. swine population healthy will help make the country attractive to help China fill its pork demands.

“I feel prices are showing signs of a real rebound and hogs are in a good place relative to last year,” said Abhinesh Gopal, head of commodity research at Farms.com Risk Management. “Supply is not exploding like it has the last few years and demand is good. When there is global panic and uncertainty, people don’t buy as much as they used to, but nations still have to feed their people.”

Farms.com has reached out to the Meat Importers Council of America for comment.

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