US - When livestock viruses (like the current Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) drive up the cost of meat, Minnesota Extension can help producers understand how to mitigate problems.
Grilling season got more expensive this past summer as livestock production dwindled. The nation's cattle herd has shrunk because of higher feed costs, and pork prices are up as the industry wrestles with a relatively new disease.
In Minnesota, PEDV (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) is of particular concern.
David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Board, explained: "Nationwide, nearly half of hog farms have been hit by PEDV, which first appeared in Minnesota in June of 2013."
Jerry Shurson, Extension swine specialist, says it's important for consumers to understand that it's OK to eat pork.
He said: "All the pork in grocery stores and restaurants is perfectly safe. There's just less of it to eat."
The USDA has conditionally licensed the first PEDV vaccine on the market but such solutions take time to make a difference.
Extension's successes with getting similar crises under control have always depended on timely recommendations, whether it's about nourishing animals during times of high feed prices or coping with animal health issues.
Mr Preisler added: "It helps that Extension can reach across the state with practical steps producers can use to make immediate changes."
Sarah Schieck, Extension swine educator, has been working with producers, state officials, feed haulers and 4-H members to better understand how to help stop the spread of PEDV.
She said: "It's everyone's job in the industry to think about biosecurity."
Dr Shurson added: "There are already indications that pork production will turn around in the coming year. We're hoping a comeback will make Minnesotan's summer barbeques more affordable in the next grilling season."ThePigSite News Desk
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