Playing Offense to African Swine Fever Through Research
Can you imagine an industry that supports 550,000 jobs with an annual estimated gross economic output of $23.4 billion suddenly vanishing overnight? Should the swine industry suddenly find itself grappling with an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), we could find our companies, our customers and our communities dealing with this very real scenario.
Supporting our producer customers is one reason why the feed industry is partnering with the swine industry through the Institute for Feed Education and Research to step up its funding of critical research aimed at better preparing our industries against an ASF outbreak. IFEEDER's goal is to provide the feed industry with information so that it may develop tools to better prevent, detect and mitigate the occurrence of ASF in feed.
In partnership with the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), IFEEDER and the swine industry recently released the results of its first round of research that looked at the holding times for feed ingredients, which are considered a risk for carrying and spreading the ASF virus. This research answered an industry need and the outcome validated shorter holding times for most ingredients evaluated. This will help ingredient suppliers keep inventories moving and ensure that they maintain a source of safe ingredients for animal food.
IFEEDER is now embarking on a second study to help the industry better understand how a virus can impact a feed manufacturing facility and most importantly, what steps need to be taken to get a contaminated facility back online while maintaining customers' trust in the products. By proactively conducting this research in partnership with the SHIC, IFEEDER will put knowledge in the hands of the industry leaders who are working tirelessly to develop plans for managing an outbreak in a feed production facility and mitigating any subsequent spread.
With additional industry support, IFEEDER will be able to fund a third study to develop a test that will potentially determine if ASF is present within a feed facility. The test will not only help manufacturers proactively decontaminate their facilities, but also reinforce best biosecurity practices.
While the industry can't guarantee that disease outbreaks will never occur, the research and education that IFEEDER provides helps inform the animal feed industry on best practices for both production and protection of the feed supply. This is just one example of how supporting IFEEDER helps ensure that the feed industry continues to have the latest research to support safe manufacturing practices – no matter the segment of the industry – which can build trust among consumers, decision makers and thought leaders who know our role in producing safe feed and pet food. Thanks to the support of our members, we are able to quickly respond to potential industry issues that could have very real impacts on jobs, business success and the economic well-being of communities all across our great nation.
To learn more about how you can become involved in IFEEDER and support research and education projects that help inform our industry, please contact Rob Cooper, IFEEDER's executive director.