IN RESPONSE to the significant impact porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and porcine delta coronavirus are having on U.S. pork producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $26.2 million in funding to combat these diseases.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement during a luncheon with pork producers at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.
Additionally, USDA issued a federal order requiring the mandatory reporting of new detections of these viruses to Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or state animal health officials.
The new reporting system is effective immediately but will not likely be fully implemented until early to mid-July. The plan will place no restrictions on animal movement and requires no animal quarantines.
"In the last year, industry has estimated that PEDV has killed some 7 million piglets and caused tremendous hardship for many American pork producers," Vilsack said.
"Together with industry and our state partners, the steps we will take through the federal order will strengthen the response to PEDV and these other viruses and help us lessen the impact to producers, which ultimately benefits the consumers who have seen store pork prices rise by almost 10% in the past year," he added.
Vilsack warned that there could be at least 10% fewer market-ready hogs this summer than in 2013 because of PEDV losses.
Vilsack said the $26.2 million will be used for a variety of activities to support pork producers and combat these diseases, including:
* $3.9 million for USDA's Agricultural Research Service to support the development of vaccines;
* $2.4 million for cooperative agreement funding for states to support management and control activities;
* $500,000 for herd veterinarians to help with development and monitoring of herd management plans and sample collection;
* $11.1 million in cost-share funding for producers of infected herds to support biosecurity practices;
* $2.4 million for diagnostic testing, and
* $1.5 million for National Animal Health Laboratory Network diagnostic laboratories to conduct genomic sequencing of newly positive herds.
APHIS's federal order requires producers, veterinarians and diagnostic laboratories to report all cases of PEDV and other new swine enteric coronavirus diseases to USDA and state animal health officials.
John Clifford, head of APHIS, said, "At the farm level, we are interested in knowing that there is an incident and what is being done to keep that from spreading to other operations."
Vilsack said the hog industry is seeing a few herds previously affected by PEDV become re-infected. He added that the routine and standard disease reporting being implemented will help identify the magnitude of the disease in the U.S. and can help determine whether additional actions are needed.
The order also requires that operations reporting these viruses work with a veterinarian or USDA or state animal health officials to develop and implement a reasonable management plan to address the detected virus and prevent its spread. Plans should be based on industry-recommended best practices and include disease monitoring through testing and biosecurity measures.
These steps will help reduce virus shed in affected animals, prevent further spread of the disease and enable continued movement of animals for production and processing.
Vilsack noted that attention is needed at U.S. borders to ensure consistent and comprehensive inspections. In the global economy we live in today, this is something we will have to confront more often, he said.
In response to USDA's federal order aimed at combatting PEDV, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) president Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, said, "We still need to see the fine details of the program, but if USDA can focus a lot of the plan on researching and testing this devastating disease and on helping producers enhance their biosecurity, that would go a long way to helping us know how to control and prevent the virus."
NPPC and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, which met with Vilsack just prior to his announcement at the World Pork Expo, asked him to commit to:
* Conducting in-depth investigations to discover the pathway by which PEDV entered the U.S.;
* Collaborating with the U.S. pork industry to fund, prioritize, coordinate and conduct research on the virus;
* Coordinating with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the pork industry to enhance the biosecurity of feed and feed ingredients;
* Collaborating with the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to ensure seamless and efficient inter-laboratory communications and data sharing;
* Providing funding for diagnostic testing and viral genetic sequencing to gather the information needed to control the disease, and
* Providing funding to enhance agricultural biosecurity, including on farms, in packing and processing plants and at U.S. border entry points.
The World Organization for Animal Health, an international governing body, believes that cases of PEDV and other swine enteric coronavirus diseases shouldn't be a basis for countries to restrict imports of pork and pork products from the U.S. These viruses do not pose any risk to human health or food safety, and they are commonly detected in countries around the world.