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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Ag Department Launches Swine Health Program

The V.I. Department of Agriculture is teaming up with USDA’s to help local swine farmers keep their stock healthy.
The Swine Health Protection Program is designed to assess the needs of swine producers and the health situation of the swine industry in the territory, guarding against the introducton of diseases – especially classic Swine Fever – from other Caribbean islands, said Bethany Bradford, director of Veterinary Services for the V.I. ag department.
"Farmers are an independent lot," Bradford said, "folks who don’t like to ask for help or take suggestions from outside about how to run their operations. So the first thing the new swine program wants to do is establish a closer relationship with the farmers, assess their needs and concerns."
The territory is considered an area at high risk for introduction of swine diseases due to the proximity to neighboring islands that currently have disease. The Swine Health Protection Program will work with all individuals involved with the territory’s swine industry to prevent disease through education and surveillance in an effort to reduce this risk. Animal health officials will begin visiting swine farms this month.
There are 50 to 60 swine farmers in the territory, according to Bradford, growing a few thousand animals.
A major area of concern is the feed received by swine. It’s currently a USDA requirement to boil any feed that contains scrap meat or any meat product for half an hour in order to kill any swine fever bacteria. Despite the requirement, Bradford said not all local swine farmers go to the trouble.
The new program has not been caused by any sudden outbreak or upswing in cases of Swine Fever in the region, Bradford said, "except for the fact our department has not been able to really to work to the extent that the federal government wants us to."
Further information can be obtained or farms can be registered in the free program by calling Bradford at 778-0998, extension 241 or 252.

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