New inspection rules for hogs and pigs exhibited at the 2019 Iowa State Fair are definitely needed, says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. The additional requirements are aimed at promoting biosecurity and animal health, as African swine fever continues to spread across China and other parts of Asia and Europe.
“This disease hasn’t yet shown up in the U.S., and we want to keep it out,” Naig says. “If it does show up, we want to know immediately and use strict control measures.”
The new rules specify that all swine must be individually inspected and identified on a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection completed within seven days prior to the Iowa State Fair, which runs Aug. 8-18 this year. Also, a veterinarian will inspect all swine as they arrive at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines before they are unloaded from the truck or mixed with other livestock on-site.
These additional exhibition requirements were developed with input from veterinarians and other third-party experts. “We are working with other state and federal agencies and industry partners to monitor the ASF situation and educate producers about biosecurity,” Naig says. “While the disease does not pose a human health or food safety threat, it would be detrimental to Iowa’s pork industry and the state’s economy. That’s why we’re implementing additional biosecurity measures for all swine exhibitors at this year’s Iowa State Fair.”
While ASF is top of mind, state ag officials stress the importance of following proper biosecurity protocols — with all species of animals — every day to protect Iowa’s livestock.
“All exhibitors are encouraged to practice good biosecurity both at the show and at home on the farm,” says Dr. Jeff Kaisand, state veterinarian. “When exhibitors return home from the fair, they should disinfect their equipment, isolate animals that traveled to the show from the rest of the herd and monitor for signs of illness.”
Protecting the health of Iowa’s livestock and the state’s ag-based economy are top priorities for the Iowa department of ag and the Iowa State Fair organizers. “We value Iowa’s largest industry, agriculture, and recognize the importance of comprehensive biosecurity practices,” says Gary Slater, CEO and manager of the fair. “We work in partnership with IDALS and our state veterinarians to maintain the highest standards for our livestock exhibitors and animals they bring to show at the Iowa State Fair.”
Sending right message
Biosecurity concerns led organizers to cancel the 2019 World Pork Expo, which was scheduled for June at the state fairgrounds. The National Pork Producers Council says ASF affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is no vaccine to treat the disease.
“Livestock shows are important,” Naig says. “We want to be sending the right message to our young people, our future leaders. That message is: This is a great industry to be involved in. The most important thing we can ensure is that there are healthy animals showing up at the Iowa State Fair and other expositions. That’s the best way to make sure the animals are healthy when they leave the fair and return to the farms. We’re asking livestock exhibitors to pay close attention to their animals, both when they arrive and when they go home.”
Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, thinks ASF has probably been introduced into the U.S. already in a meat product. It just hasn’t been around a hog, so the disease hasn’t shown up in hogs in the U.S. yet.
“We need to think about biosecurity on multiple levels,” she says. “First, everyone has to help. The countries where ASF outbreaks are occurring have got to get this disease under control, and we in the U.S. can help with that.
“Second, we’ve got to keep ASF out of North America if we can, and we must be watching and inspecting products coming into the U.S. from across the borders. Third, if ASF is here, it still hasn’t shown up on a farm. Thus, we have a chance to enhance our biosecurity at the farm level. That’s what we’re encouraging producers to be looking at.”
Learn more about good biosecurity protocols at iowaagriculture.gov.