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Swine & U Column: U.S.- Swine Health Improvement Plan (SHIP)

By Diane DeWitte, UMN Extension Swine Educator
Originally printed in The LAND - as the July 7, 2023 Swine & U Column

US-SHIP is another acronym pig farmers and allied industry folks have encountered recently, generating questions about what it is, whether it is required, and where is it coming from. US-SHIP is the United States- Swine Health Improvement Plan, and it is open for all producers who raise pigs.

In Minnesota US-SHIP is managed by the MN Board of Animal Health (BAH) and also overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services. Additionally, swine industry leaders are involved in the development and management of a US-SHIP National Playbook of technical standards centering on prevention and demonstration of freedom of disease outside of control areas in support of animal health, commerce, and trade.

Swine leadership across the country is involved in the UScreation of the national playbook, and Minnesota has several representatives at the table from the UM College of Veterinary Medicine, the veterinary disease diagnostic lab, and swine farms.

US SHIP is modeled after the very successful National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) that has been in place since 1935. NPIP is a collaborative effort involving industry, state, and federal partners providing standards for certifying the health status of greater than 99% of commercial scale poultry and egg operations across the US.

US SHIP is intended to provide a national program for certifying health status and is initially focused on African Swine Fever (ASF) and Classical Swine Fever (CSF). Minnesota has committed to participating in US SHIP and encourages all MN swine producers to enroll their production and packing site(s) in this unique program.

The benefits of US SHIP enrollment include:
  • Strengthened ASF/CSF preparedness (prevention, response and recovery) for our state.
  • Establish a uniform biosecurity, traceability, sampling/testing approach across participating states in “peacetime” as well as “wartime.”
  • Participation in a collaborative industry (producers/packers), state, and federal program in which producers can help establish appropriate standards for health certification.

Participation by All

US SHIP is designed to be applicable across the entire spectrum of US pork industry participants from the small show pig farmer to the larger commercial producers, live animal marketing operations, and slaughter facilities. Developing program standards that are relevant to and enable participation across the full breadth of US commercial pork industry participants is essential.

Majority participation is a foundational element necessary for being able to represent the health status of domestic pig production operations across supply chains, areas, states, and regions. The National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board, North American Meat Institute, United States Animal Health Association, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians have each communicated full support to expand the resources being provided to develop US SHIP.

In 2022 a joint industry “ASF Strategy Work Group” led by board members of the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council identified “expediting the development of US SHIP into a permanent USDA program” as one of the key industry priorities to be pursued.

House of Delegates

Industry and state representation from Minnesota attended the inaugural US SHIP House of Delegates in August 2021 and approved the initial requirements for certification in the program. In 2022, the House of Delegates met in early September to further develop the US-SHIP plan. The 2023 US-SHIP House of Delegates meeting is slated for early September in Bloomington, MN. What is the House of Delegates (HOD)?

The US SHIP HOD is a decision-making body composed of US pork industry participants and subject matter experts that aim to represent the interests of pork industry stakeholders across each of the states that have expressed an interest in participating in US SHIP.

Each state expressing interest has been allocated a specified number of voting delegates and the opportunity to invite up to 2 non-voting guests to attend each US SHIP HOD meeting. A formula was used to derive the number of voting delegates allocated to each state. The number of delegates includes a baseline allocation to each state, as well as an allocation proportionate to the capacity (inventory) of the Breeding Herd and Growing Pig production sites (respectively) enrolled in US SHIP that are located in each respective state.

Each participating state’s voting delegation also includes the State Animal Health Official or their designee. State level participation in this US SHIP development project is determined by the State Animal Health Official. In 2022, thirty-one states sent delegates to the 2nd US SHIP HOD.

Appropriate representation of Minnesota’s pig farmers relies on the number of swine enterprises enrolled in US-SHIP.

How to Enroll in US-SHIP

Enrollment in US SHIP is by pig farm site and is fairly straightforward:
  • Complete the enrollment form (either single premise or multi-premise form).
  • Complete the biosecurity enrollment survey provided after you submit your enrollment form.
  • Show ability to provide 30 days of swine movement records in an electronic format.
In short, US SHIP will establish a national playbook of technical standards and associated certification recognized across participating states that centers on disease prevention and demonstration of freedom of disease outside of control.

At the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, Interim State Veterinarian Brian Hoefs has taken the lead with US-SHIP. Further information about US-SHIP can be found at the BAH website and at the links listed above. 

For producers needing additional assistance in enrolling in US-SHIP, feel free to contact UMN Extension Swine Educators Diane DeWitte at or 507-384-1745 or Sarah Schieck Boelke at or 320-235-0726 X2004.

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