Former Iowa governor, and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, says he’s concerned unfounded fear over the so-called "swine flu" virus is harming agriculture. Vilsack says his department keeps in constant check with state ag secretaries on the issue.
Vilsack says there is no indication that any hogs in the U.S. have been infected and he says if that would happen, they would notify people immediately. Vilsack appeared with the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security today for a briefing on the swine flu outbreak.
He says pork prices have fallen as have corn and soybean prices over unfounded fears surrounding the outbreak. "We believe that there is not reason to stop or ban pork or pork products from the United States," Vilsack says.
He says it is "perfectly safe" to eat pork products and he says the U.S. will continue working to keep the trading lanes open with other countries. Vilsack singled out Japan as a country which has "sent a clear message" that this is not a food borne illness and the importation of American pork is safe.
Vilsack says they will continue to work to answer questions with countries that have taken other actions and let them know that actions to ban imports of pork or beer is not "science based" and could result in serious disruptions of trade. Vilsack says the disease shouldn’t even be called "swine flu."
The acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S., with no cases in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced a 24-hour phone line for questions about swine flu. You can call 800-447-1985 for questions.