Senators Call for Help for Small Pig Producers Hit by PED

US - Two senators have called on the USDA Secretary to offer disaster assistance for small pork producers harmed by Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED), which has impacted one-third of North Carolina's hog producers and killed more than four million pigs nationwide.
calendar icon 17 March 2014
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US Senators Kay Hagan (NC) and Debbie Stabenow (MI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to approve disaster assistance for small pork producers affected by a deadly virus that is hitting pig farms across the country. The Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has impacted one-third of all North Carolina pork producers and killed over four million pigs nationwide since April 2013.

Senator Hagan said: "This disease is devastating the pork industry in North Carolina, and if herds continue to diminish, producers risk going out of business entirely. Much like the rest of the livestock industry that suffered drought, fires and blizzards, it is critically important that these pork producers have a safety net to help compensate for their losses and get back on their feet."

The Senators urged Secretary Vilsack to utilise the livestock disaster programme, which was permanently extended in the 2014 Farm Bill, to help producers in the 25 states coping with the devastating virus.

Additionally, the Senators asked the USDA to increase research for a vaccine and other interventions to address PEDv, for which no vaccine or antibiotics currently exist.

A copy of the letter is available here.

PEDv has a reported mortality rate of nearly 100 per cent for piglets under two weeks old and ultimately kills 50 to 80 per cent of all newborn and suckling pigs. Older feeder or grower pigs are more capable of fighting the virus, suffering only a one to three per cent death rate. The virus has occurred in Europe and Asia, but last spring was the first instance of PEDv in the United States.

North Carolina currently ranks second in the country in total pork production, accounting for nearly 14 per cent of total US pork production. In 2012, the pork industry supported more than 24,620 North Carolina jobs and contributed $1.46 billion to the state's economy.

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