(Editor’s Note: On April 11, the National Pork Producers Council board of directors voted to cancel the pork industry’s biggest event of the year as a precautionary step to help protect U.S. swine herd from possible spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The NPPC’s full news release follows in its entirety.)

"In an effort to be proactive and help protect the health status of the U.S. swine herd and protect U.S. pork producers, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is announcing the cancellation of the 2001 World Pork Expo.

"We have seen tremendous devastation in countries around the world from foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks. The U.S. has been free of foot-and-mouth disease since 1929, and we don't want to take any risk of a possible outbreak potentially spread through the hosting of World Pork Expo, an event attended by pork producers and pork industry leaders from around the world," says Barb Determan, NPPC President.

"In it's fourteenth year, World Pork Expo was expected to attract approximately 40,000 pork producers and consumers. In addition to the U.S. pork producers, about 2,000 international visitors from 60 countries annually attend the event.

"Although biosecurity measures to control potential disease situations are not new to World Pork Expo, the NPPC board of directors feels it is prudent to take the extraordinary precaution of canceling the event this year," adds Determan, an Early, Iowa, pork producer. "Our next concern is how to communicate all the information available at World Pork Expo to pork producers. We are working on a plan to make sure our producers have easy access to the information and technologies that would have been displayed at this year's event."

"As part of the decision to cancel the 2001 World Pork Expo, the NPPC board of directors strongly urges the following recommendations to members of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), pork producers and other livestock organizations:

  1. A 100% compliance of inspection protocols by USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Customs Service on all passengers, mail and cargo from countries that are foot-and-mouth disease positive.

  2. Encourage all pork producers and pork plants to prohibit foreign visitors from touring farms and plants.

  3. Increase funding to USDA/APHIS for prevention of foreign animal diseases, particularly foot-and-mouth disease.

  4. Increase funding for USDA/APHIS for enhanced detection and response on foreign animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease.

  5. Strongly encourage the U.S. government to take all appropriate actions to eliminate accidental and/or intentional pathways of introduction of foreign animal diseases, particularly foot-and-mouth disease.

  6. Encourage an animal health and biosecurity risk assessment of all shows or expositions that include live animals.

"The NPPC board of directors is planning a World Pork Expo in 2002, with appropriate biosecurity precautions," adds Determan.

"Although NPPC has taken this proactive and precautionary measure to help prevent an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States, we still want to urge all pork producers to use the utmost vigilance in biosecurity measures on their farms. We are also urging the U.S. government to take all necessary precautions to protect the U.S. borders," says Determan.

Additional information on biosecurity and foreign animal diseases can be found at www.porkboard.org or www.porkscience.org. These sites provide hyperlinks to a variety of basic information on foot-and-mouth disease and the outbreak in Europe.