WASHINGTON, April 18, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said hog producers are now required to report outbreaks of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), in an effort to slow the spread of the disease that has killed millions of piglets since it was detected in the U.S. a year ago. There is now also a reporting requirement for the Swine Delta Coronavirus.
“Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers,” Vilsack said from St. Paul, Minn., where he participated in an event with the state’s junior Democratic senator, Al Franken.
While pig shipments will continue to be allowed, producers will be required to track movement of pigs, vehicles and other equipment leaving affected premises, USDA said in a news release.
The department also said it is working with farmers and pork producers to increase assistance with disease surveillance, herd monitoring and epidemiological and technical support. Additionally, it said USDA’s Farm Loan Programs is working with producers to provide credit options, including restructuring loans, similar to the way the Farm Service Agency worked with livestock producers who lost thousands of cows in an unexpected blizzard in South Dakota last October.
USDA noted that its Agricultural Research Service is already working with the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, to make models of the disease transmission and testing feedstuffs. This modeling work is contributing to some experimental vaccines to treat animals with the disease, it said.
Earlier this month, Vilsack said there was little USDA can do to directly compensate hog producers for PEDv losses. While a program in the 2014 Farm Bill – the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – is supposed to provide help for losses due to disease, among other things, the funds available are capped at $20 million per fiscal year.
“If you were to suggest that that’s a source of compensation, it would have to be 10 times that size to deal with the losses that have occurred,” Vilsack said at a meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington earlier this month. He also said the program is “really focused on sort of niche areas of trees and honeybees.”
Vilsack told the reporters it would be up to Congress to approve disaster assistance for pork producers.
The USDA first confirmed the presence of PEDv in the U.S. last May. As of April 5, 2014, the disease had been detected in 28 states, with 5,500 cases confirmed.
PEDv causes severe gastrointestinal distress in pigs. While mature animals usually recover, the virus has a high mortality rate among piglets. The disease only affects pigs and does not affect pets, other animals or people. USDA emphasizes it is not a food safety concern.
A question-and-answer sheet on today's reporting requirement is available on USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website here. For a summary of USDA actions to date, additional information is available here.
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