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New tool available for pork producers

Technology allows for quick action in the event of a disease outbreak

The National Pork Board recently launched a platform to help pork producers respond quickly to an event such as a foreign animal disease outbreak (FAD). The new technology would allow producers to isolate any affected pigs without involving numerous additional involvement of animals or farms. The new software-based technology tool, free to pork producers through the Pork Checkoff, is called AgView a web application intended for use from a desktop computer, but is accessible from mobile devices.

AgView provides near real-time health and movement status to help the U.S. pork industry rapidly conduct contact-tracing to contain or regionalize a foreign animal disease outbreak such as African swine fever (ASF).

“For the U.S. pork industry, AgView is the Path to Protection for America’s pig farms. When permissioned by producer-users, AgView can provide real-time health status, site and pig movement data from registered farms to state animal health officials to aid in the response of a suspected or confirmed FAD,” said Dave Pyburn, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Board. “Its robust features could help the pork industry rapidly contain or regionalize a potential FAD outbreak,” he said.



According to Pyburn, “As part of an FAD outbreak investigation by state health officials, during a possible outbreak, the officials would review historical animal movements to learn where animals that may have had an FAD have been, along with other animals they could have exposed and are considered at risk.

Grow-finish pigs in a hog barn. Photo courtesy National Pork Board

DATA COLLECTION



In addition, AgView uses much of the same data required by participants in the nation’s Secure Pork Supply plan (www.securepork.org). “Producers who want to participate need to setup an account in AgView and develop a data connection between their farm data and the AgView system,” Pyburn said. “This is very important because producers have premises identification numbers and robust movement records that can facilitate rapid contact tracing, if ASF occurs here.”

The main features for the input into AgView include:

• Site information (premises identification numbers, type of farm, number of pigs)

• Animal movements, both in-state and out-of-state

• Lab results from participating labs

• Secure Pork Supply documentation

“We just rolled out AgView on Nov. 9, and it’s only one month that it officially became available for the pork industry,” said Mike King, science communications director for the National Pork Board. “One of the key concepts that makes it different from other products for farmers, that this is being driven by all 50 states. Each state veterinarian is really instrumental about how they’ll adopt and integrate AgView.”

AgView can be used by all pork producers and state veterinarians in the U.S. no matter how large the farm is, how many pigs the farm has, the type of pig that is raised at the farm or the business goals of the operation.

“AgView is designed to help the pork industry be more prepared for an FAD,” King said. “So for it to be most successful, adoption by as many producers and state veterinarians will be critical. All U.S. pork producers will benefit from integrating AgView into their farming operations.”

To reassure hog producers, who may be wary revealing details about their farm for use in AgView, security precautions have been taken.

“We follow secure coding guidelines and are pursuing third-party security audit/certification to provide additional assurance to producers and state organizations to ensure we handle data in an appropriate manner in accordance with our industry’s expectations,” said Patrick Webb, DVM, director of swine health at the National Pork Board. “We are also modifying the system to label producer input data as business confidential.”

ECONOMIC IMPACT

A key reason for launching AgView was a new economic study conducted by a team of agricultural economists at Iowa State University and the Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay, revealing that an African swine fever outbreak in the U.S., leading to a shutting down of port export markets, could cost $50 billion.

“An outbreak of an FAD, like ASF, would be a devastating blow for pork industry, the impact would be catastrophic on the whole supply chain — from grain farmers and pig farmers, to packers/processors — the industry would not recover quickly,” Webb said. “Just as COVID-19 ravaged the pork industry, leading to billions of dollars in losses for America’s pig farmers, the threat of ASF or another FAD is far worse. If we learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that we can’t afford to be caught off guard again.”

The economic impact study says on-farm biosecurity practices and being able to track pig movement would be critical to stopping virus spread, and relaying to export countries that any possible case of ASF is cleared. In addition, the study found the economic impact of a hypothetical ASF outbreak could:

• Amount to $8 billion in lost revenue ($61.59 per head) if ASF is controlled and exports return within one year

• Cost the pork industry more than $50 billion over 10 years

• Mean a difference of $15 billion in losses for the industry in a scenario where ASF is controlled in two years, as opposed to $50 billion in losses if controlled in 10 years

• Lead to the loss of 140,000 jobs in the U.S.

• Cause hog prices to fall by 47 percent in the first year of the outbreak, with prices stabilizing to 1.8 percent lower

• Reduce long-term pork production by almost 30 percent if ASF is not quickly contained.

“African Swine Fever has killed more than half the pigs in China, and it is in parts of Europe, Russia and even in the wild pig herd in Germany,” King said. “Not only does it impact those countries producing pigs and pork, but other countries like the U.S. and China will stop importing pork from those affected countries until they know it’s safe.” King added that African swine fever doesn’t affect people, but it can be easily transferred to pigs, by various means.

“We’re not instructing anyone to use AgView, but it is free through Pork Checkoff dollars,” Webb said. “For farmers who opt in to use AgView, their information is only shared when they punch a button to say, ‘Yes, you can use my data now.”

This is the Phase 1 launch of AgView, which has been designed to assist with response needs for an outbreak of ASF, but King noted it can easily be modified to allow for use, in the event of any other foreign animal diseases.

For more information about the AgView tool, go to https://www.pork.org/agview/


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