orders farmers to report deadly pig virus cases
Send a link to a friend
[June 06, 2014]
DES MOINES Iowa (Reuters) -
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday
ordered farmers to start reporting cases of a deadly pig
virus and pledged over $26 million in funding to combat
the disease, pushing back against criticism of his
handling of a widespread outbreak.
Vilsack, speaking to a roomful of farmers at an industry gathering
in Iowa, said they must tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture
about outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) effective
immediately to help control the spread of the disease.
The USDA had said in April it would require reporting of cases of
PEDv and Swine Delta Coronavirus, but provided few details.
PEDv first appeared in the United States over a year ago and has
wiped out an estimated 10 percent of U.S. pigs. The virus causes
diarrhea and vomiting and is nearly always lethal to baby piglets.
Veterinarians have said the USDA failed to protect the nation from
the virus, which had never been in the country before it was found
in Ohio in April 2013 and whose origins remain unknown.
"It's not a failure," Vilsack told reporters at the World Pork Expo
about the spread of PEDv. "It's a challenge."
Vilsack said that requiring farmers to report the disease should
help ease concerns among importers. Already, 11 countries have
limited imports of live U.S. hogs and one country has banned pork
imports because of concerns about the virus.
"We're seeing record exports in pork. Why would we want to
jeopardize that?" Vilsack said.
The United States last year exported about $6 billion worth of pork
and $30.5 million worth of live hogs. [ID:nL1N0OL2NW] The emergence
of the virulent, fast-moving virus caught the USDA and hog industry
off guard. It has killed about 8 million piglets so far and helped
to push pork prices to record highs.
PEDv is not a threat to humans or to food safety, according to the
However, farmers and veterinarians fear that other diseases could
enter the country because the USDA does not know how PEDv entered,
fuelling concerns about the measures used to protect the U.S. food
[to top of second column]
"The department in charge of protecting our nation’s food supply
should not have taken a year to act," U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said.
"But I hope with resources finally being put in to monitoring PEDv,
we will at long last be able to track the cause of this virus and
stop it in its tracks.”
Vilsack said the outbreaks raised questions about "whether or not we
are as prepared as we need to be" to check diseases at national
Since PEDv was discovered spring last year, a second strain of the
virus and a different disease called Swine Delta Coronavirus have
also been identified.
Vilsack pledged $26.2 million in funding to combat all the diseases,
including $11.1 million to support strengthened bio-security
practices at farms.
"More money may be needed in the future, but $26 million in an
environment like we have right now is new money," said Howard Hill,
president of the National Pork Producers Council and an Iowa hog
(Reporting by Tom Polansek and Theo Waters; Editing by Chris Reese
and Marguerita Choy)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.