Bill to protect against African swine fever signed

President Trump recently signed legislation led by Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, to protect our nation’s pork supply and the Iowa pork industry from the threat of deadly African swine fever through expanded agricultural inspections.

The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act authorizes U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire, train, and deploy 240 new agricultural specialists to prevent this dangerous disease from reaching our food supply. ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease which currently lacks a vaccine that affects hogs and would be devastating to Iowa’s pork industry.

The bill, which Rep. Axne helped introduce in the House of Representative last September, passed unanimously in the House in February after advancing in the Senate last October.

“I’m pleased that the President has signed our legislation to ensure we have enough resources to protect our border from African Swine Fever and other animal diseases,” Rep. Axne said. “We’ve seen diseases such as African Swine Fever destroy hog populations throughout the world. An outbreak in Iowa, which leads the nation in producing nearly one-third of all U.S. hogs, would be devastating to an industry that is an economic driver and job creator across our state.”

As many as half of China’s entire breeding pig population died or were slaughtered because of the recent spread of African Swine Fever. In recent days, the spread of the disease has also been reported in the Philippines and Greece, and ongoing outbreaks have also been reported in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and South Africa.

In July, Rep. Axne and Republican Rep. James Baird, Indiana, urged CBP to prioritize agricultural inspections to prevent an outbreak of ASF among domestic swine herds. In a bipartisan letter sent to Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, the Representatives called attention to the rapid spread of ASF in Europe and Asia and highlighted the threat the disease poses to American hogs and our pork industry.