The National Pork Producers Council is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to commit resources to research and testing on and biosecurity measures related to porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus as part of the agency’s new PED virus reporting program.
PED virus has affected hog operations in 30 states, killing an estimate 8 million animals, mostly pre-weaned piglets.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, during a speech at the World Pork Expo held in Des Moines, Iowa, announced the new PED virus program, which includes mandatory reporting of the disease.
Since PED virus first was identified in the United States more than a year ago, NPPC, along with the National Pork Board, has been encouraging pork producers who have had outbreaks of the virus on their farms to voluntarily report to their state veterinarians.
The two organizations and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians met with Vilsack prior to his speech to NPPC members, asking him to commit to:
- Conducting in-depth investigations to discover the pathway PEDV used to enter the United States.
- Collaborating with the U.S. pork industry to fund, prioritize, coordinate and conduct research on the virus.
- Coordinating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the 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 information needed to control the disease.
- Providing funding to enhance agricultural biosecurity, including on farms, in packing and processing plants and at U.S. border entry points.
“We’re hopeful the USDA plan will work,” said NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “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 to prevent the virus.”