The USDA announced a new program late last week designed to try and control the spread of the fatal pig virus (Porcine epidemic diarrhea - PED) that is causing havoc with the industry, asking that farms stricken with the virus to report outbreaks. Farmers have struggled to control the virus, because little is known about how it spreads and there is not yet a federally approved vaccine.
Previously, the USDA and the nation's pork industry tracked PED with voluntary reports from the labs.
PED, which has killed millions of pigs in 27 states since showing up in the U.S. last May, with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina being hit hardest, has been blamed for increased in bacon and pork prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would step up efforts by requiring farms to report infections and labs to report positive tests from submitted tissue and fecal samples. Farms that suffer an outbreak also will have to participate in a program to help control the spread of the disease; details of that program have not yet been worked out.
The USDA also said they are committing $5 million toward fight the disease, boosting the $1.7 million research effort already begun by the pork industry. It also will require farmers to report cases of a similar disease, 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," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in statement.
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