THE Veterinary Services program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service recently updated information that applies to the existing swine enteric coronavirus disease (SECD) reimbursement program requirements announced in June.
Beginning Dec. 15, USDA will no longer pay for SECD samples submitted for testing that do not include a valid premises identification number (PIN). At that time, laboratories will begin to charge the submitter for testing samples that do not include this information.
On June 5, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a federal order requiring the reporting of SECDs. A key provision in the order was that USDA would provide funding for the initial diagnosis of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV) in swine herds.
The monies were also made available to support monitoring and management plans for herds that meet USDA's case definition — as outlined in the order — in hopes of curbing the spread of the PEDV and PDCoV.
A recent industry-wide PEDV update issued by the National Pork Board noted that PINs have clear benefits for tracking emerging disease and that the change in payments for SECD testing underscores the importance of PINs.
Federal and state authorities have reported a substantial increase in the number of samples submitted with PINs since the funding was made available in June: The number of samples from swine farms with a valid PIN rose from 10% to 75%.
Despite this increase, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), in its Nov. 12 update, acknowledged that a significant amount of time continues to be spent researching location information for submissions lacking a valid PIN.
The federal order also required several other criteria for sample identification, including the date of the sample collection and the type of unit being sampled.
Sample types eligible for USDA reimbursement, as identified in the original federal order, include intestines, feces, fecal swabs and oral fluids. Environmental samples specifically associated with a farm site and live pigs remain eligible for funding as long as a valid PIN is submitted with the sample.
No changes have been made to these criteria, and as noted in the original guidelines, USDA will not pay for samples submitted for testing from truck washes, trucks, trailers, other transport vehicles, feed, feed mills and other non-farm site samples, including those submitted for research purposes.
Federal, state and industry officials anticipate an increase in the number of samples submitted for testing throughout the winter months and are encouraging producers to obtain valid premises registration numbers.
Ralco research barns
Ralco, a third-generation, family-owned, multinational company with distribution in more than 30 countries, recently reported that it has completed a 1,200-head swine nursery and 2,400-head grow/finish research barn near Balaton, Minn., that will provide the company's swine technical team with precision tools to further develop swine nutrition.
"In today's fast-paced world of new discoveries and technologies, it is important to validate products, concepts and technologies to keep our customers on the cutting edge of nutrition and profitability," Ralco president Jon Knochenmus said. "We would like to thank all our customers for the trust they've placed in us to handle their swine nutrition. We believe these facilities represent an investment in not only our own business but theirs as well."
Both the 1,200-head nursery and 2,400-head doublewide finishing research barns provide the Ralco swine technical team with the ability to conduct in-depth research on alternative feed ingredients, alternative feed formulation and new technologies.
The facilities are furnished with fully automated feed systems and individual water lines for conducting trials of water-based products.
Continuing to advance swine production to the next level is essential to raising quality pork for a growing global population, the company said.
"These barns are something we have planned for a long time. Until now, with the help of various research partners and customers, we have been able to conduct many trials and test nutritional developments and discoveries, but these new research barns will really take us to the next level as we continue to improve on existing technologies and develop new ones," said Dr. Jim Hedges, who leads Ralco's team of eight swine nutritionists.
"Our staff spends a lot of time in the field with our customers, which leads to new ideas and concepts to help improve production efficiency. We are now able to test these concepts with facilities and pig sources that represent real-world circumstances, which will enable us to get these technologies into our customers' hands even faster than before," Hedges added.
The AASV Foundation, as part of its mission to fund research with direct application to the profession, announced that it is seeking research proposals for funding in 2015.
Proposed research should fit one of the five action areas listed in the AASV Foundation's mission statement: (1) potential benefits to swine veterinarians and/or the swine industry, (2) the probability of success within a given timeline, (3) scientific/investigative quality, (4) budget justification and (5) originality.
Proposals are due Jan. 30, 2015, and may request a maximum of $30,000 per project. A maximum of $60,000 will be awarded across two or more projects.
The announcement of which projects will be selected for funding will take place at the AASV Foundation luncheon in Orlando, Fla., on March 1, 2015.
Instructions for submitting proposals are available on the AASV Foundation website at www.aasv.org/foundation/2015/research.php.
Illinois hog farm
Despite opposition from residents and county officials, the Illinois Department of Agriculture recently approved a 20,000-head hog farm to be built near Wenona, Ill.
VMC Management Corp. of Williamsburg, Iowa, was informed in an Oct. 28 letter that the farm plans satisfied Illinois livestock operation regulations, providing the green light for construction.
Opponents of the farm, however, have vowed to continue to fight the building project, claiming that the farm would affect both property values and quality of life.
Local officials in Marshall County, Ill., said they had tried everything they could in an attempt to stop the project, but to no avail.
A group called Save Our Sandy was created to coordinate efforts against the project. Organizers have said the state will be asked to reconsider its decision.