US Swine Economics Report

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week discussing the health of the swine herd.
calendar icon 25 May 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The U.S. pork industry has been fortunate to avoid a major disease problem like those that are plaguing other meats. The U.S. cattle industry is struggling to regain exports lost because of BSE. The U.S. poultry industry is battling to maintain exports in the face of worldwide concerns about avian influenza, a disease that hasn't yet appeared in the U.S. Not only does the pork industry's high health status hold down production cost, it also made possible $2.6 billion of U.S. pork product exports in 2005. That was over $25 in exports for each hog slaughtered last year.

The health status of the American swine herd is not an accident. In my lifetime, the swine industry has been successful in eliminating two major disease problems, hog cholera and pseudorabies, from the U.S. herd. Eradication occurred because of a successful partnership between industry and government.

USDA is about to conduct one of their periodic in-depth studies of U.S. livestock health. This summer, the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will be examining swine production management practices and health issues in 17 states. This is a follow up to the three previous NAHMS swine health surveys conducted in 1990, 1995 and 2000.

The purpose of these NAHMS studies is to monitor trends within the swine industry and address areas of emerging concern. In part, this information can be helpful in eliminating disease problems. In part, it allows the industry to head off serious herd health problems before they occur, sort of an ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-pound-of-cure approach to nationwide livestock disease management.

This year's NAHMS study will develop an estimate of the prevalence of PRRS, swine influenza and salmonella in the nation's swine herd and determine what management practices producers are using to reduce their incidence.

If your hog farm is one of the ones randomly selected for this study, please give the USDA enumerator your full cooperation. It's important and it's completely confidential.

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