Axne-led Bill to Protect Against African Swine Fever Passes House, Heads to President’s Desk

February 10, 2020
Press Release

Today, the House unanimously passed legislation led by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) to protect our nation’s pork supply and the Iowa pork industry from the threat of deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) through expanded agricultural inspections.

The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act authorizes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire, train, and deploy 240 new agricultural specialists to prevent this dangerous disease from reaching our food supply. While harmless to humans, ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease with no vaccine that affects hogs and would be devastating to Iowa’s pork industry.

The bill, which Rep. Axne helped introduce in the House of Representative last September, passed the Senate in October and now heads to President Trump’s desk for signature.

“It’s critical that we ensure there are enough resources to protect our borders from animal diseases,” Rep. Axne said. “We’ve seen diseases such as African Swine Fever destroy hog populations throughout the world. An outbreak in Iowa, which leads the nation in producing nearly one-third of all U.S. hogs, would be devastating to an industry that is an economic driver and job creator across our state. We must do all that we can to prevent an outbreak, and I’m proud to have helped introduce this important legislation and look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

“This is a positive step to help prevent foreign animal diseases, including African Swine Fever, from entering the U.S. Our Iowa congressional delegation worked together in a bipartisan way to move this bill through both the Senate and House. It is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature,” said Mike Paustian, President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and a pig farmer from Walcott. “Pig farmers across the country tip their hats to the good work done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to mitigate our risk of foreign animal disease, but we must remain vigilant. Today’s vote represents a tremendous victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy.”

As many as half of China’s entire breeding pig population died or were slaughtered because of the recent spread of African Swine Fever. In recent days, the spread of the disease has also been reported in the Philippines and Greece, and ongoing outbreaks have also been reported in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and South Africa.

In December, Rep. Axne joined a bipartisan House in passing an appropriations package that funds the first year of expanded agricultural specialist hiring at CBP, ensuring today’s legislation will be immediately funded when it becomes law.

In July, Rep. Axne and Republican Rep. James Baird (IN-04) urged CBP to prioritize agricultural inspections to prevent an outbreak of ASF among domestic swine herds. In a bipartisan letter sent to Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, the Representatives called attention to the rapid spread of ASF in Europe and Asia and highlighted the threat the disease poses to American hogs and our pork industry.