October 6, 2021
USDA pledges up to US$500 million to fight ASF
The US Department of Agriculture pledged in late-September up to US$500 million to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), after Haiti and the Dominican Republic recently confirmed outbreaks.
An outbreak in the United States would likely slash US pork exports and pig prices, hurting rural farmers and meat companies like Tyson Foods Inc.
USDA said it would commit funds from its Commodity Credit Corporation spending authority to expand and coordinate monitoring and surveillance for the disease, along with other efforts.
"This is unprecedented both in terms of the amount dedicated to one animal disease and of getting the funds upfront, before we have the disease in the US," said Bob Acord, a former USDA administrator who is now a consultant for the National Pork Producers Council.
The Dominican Republic's outbreak in July was the first in the Americas in nearly 40 years. It increased worries about the risk for US cases, particularly after Haiti also confirmed an outbreak this month.
USDA told Reuters it has spent about US$400,000 in the Dominican Republic to help the country respond to ASF.
"ASF outbreaks have proven devastating in other parts of the world due to lost production and trade," the USDA said.
US Customs and Border Protection is increasing inspections for illegal pork on flights from Haiti and the Dominican Republic and making sure airplane garbage is properly disposed of to prevent transmission of the disease, USDA said.