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May 04, 2021 - Harrisburg, PA

ADVISORY - Secretary of Agriculture, State Veterinarian: Pennsylvania's $34.6 Billion Animal Ag Industry Relies on Quick, Coordinated Emergency Declaration and Response

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill discussed a variety of dangerous transmissible animal diseases that threaten Pennsylvania's $34.6 billion animal agriculture industry. Should these diseases - which are currently present in other countries - arise anywhere in the United States, Pennsylvania would need to immediately declare a state of emergency to support the industry.

"Pennsylvania's animal agriculture industry is worth billions to our economy but could be taken out in a heartbeat with one animal health pandemic like we're experiencing today with COVID-19," said Redding. "Inserting politics into emergency response, like is proposed with the constitutional amendments on the ballot, will slow response time and put critical resources and cross-agency collaboration out of reach for the industry we all rely on."

High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) and African Swine Fever (ASF) are just two of many potential threats to Pennsylvania's animal agriculture industry. ASF is currently sweeping through China. In 2018, they lost 50 percent of their hog population but after an exceptionally cold winter the disease slowed. However, in 2021 they saw a fresh wave of ASF and have again lost 20-30 percent of their remaining population. Should either of these diseases be identified in the United States, it would be critical for an emergency to be declared in the commonwealth so that immediate cross-agency collaboration could begin, and federal funding enhanced.