World Pork Expo 2019 has been canceled by the National Pork Producers Council due to the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in China and other parts of Asia.

The annual exposition, scheduled to be held June 5-7 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 attendees over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. Organizers said ASF only affects pigs and is not a risk to human health or food safety.

The Board of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) described the decision to cancel as being made “out of an abundance of caution.” There is no vaccine for the disease.

“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,” said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork farmer from Lillington, North Carolina.

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.”

The United States Animal Health Association(USAHA) said the cancellation of World Pork Expo 2019 currently may be an isolated incident.

“I’m not aware of any others that have been cancelled,” said Ben Richey, executive director of the USAHA. “Obviously, the World Pork Expo is a global event, and certainly that’s their impetus to cancel it--the risk of international visitors inadvertently carrying it to the U.S. I know this decision isn’t an easy one for them, but everything I’ve read says they’re being very cautious and really putting the safety of the U.S. swine herd as the top priority and protecting it from the risk.”

Another Global Pork Show Threatened By Swine Fever?

Another major global pork producers event, the University of Minnesota's Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, is scheduled for September 14-17, 2019, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

A source at the RiverCentre said he had not heard whether that show had been cancelled, and in fact couldn't find it on the facility's official list of events.

The Allen D. Leman Swine Conference had not responded about the possibility of cancellation at publication time.

African Swine Fever Outbreak Would Decimate U.S. Pork Farmers

The cancellation comes on the heels of more than 100 pork producers gathering in Washington, D.C., this week as part of the NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference. The NPPC is currently lobbying Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors in an effort to combat ASF. The NPPC said a U.S. outbreak of ASF would decimate the export-dependent U.S. market.

“The widespread presence of African swine fever in China’s swine herd, the world’s largest by far, takes the threat of this swine disease to an entirely new level,” Herring said. “We ask all producers, travelers and the general public to recognize the heightened risk since the first outbreak was reported in China last year and to heed biosecurity protocols in support of U.S. agriculture.”

According to the NPPC, U.S. pork production accounts for $20 billion in sales, contributes $39 billion in gross national product and supports more than 500,000 jobs in the U.S. annually.

“It’s not a human disease risk, or really a food safety risk, but certainly there’s limited options on treatment for the disease, and it spreads quickly,” Richey said. “Those two factors [mean] it can do a lot of damage to the swine industry.”

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