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PEDv’s impact ‘gut-wrenching’

Seven million head of pigs have died in the U.S. during the past year due to the PED virus.

That’s the latest estimate from pork industry economist Steve Meyer, who figures that roughly 2.6 million sows have been infected and that each has lost, on average, 2.7 piglets.

Ironically, 2014 could end up being one of the best years ever financially for many pork producers, thanks to record hog prices.  But testifying Wednesday before a House Agriculture livestock subcommittee, National Pork Producers Council president Howard Hill said the industry isn’t celebrating.

“Even though a reduced supply may increase pork prices for farmers, I know first-hand that pork producers are not happy about this disease,” Hill said. “Producers talk about their PEDv experiences using terms such as ‘devastating’, ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘gut-wrenching’ when describing the disease’s impact on themselves, their family and their employees.”

Hill said pork producers are also concerned about the impact of PEDv on their customers and others who depend on the pork industry.

“Reduced hog numbers mean less feed, less medicine, fewer veterinary services and shortened hours at packing and processing plants. All of these dynamics reduce wages and profits generated by allied businesses,” Hill said. “And since many of these businesses are located in small- to mid-sized rural communities, this will have a significant negative impact on the nation’s rural economy.”

Hill said the industry needs the federal government’s assistance in combatting PEDv.  He called on the USDA’s Ag Research Service to “bring significant resources to bear” on the disease and asked that the USDA’s ability to implement a coordinated surveillance program be enhanced.

AUDIO: Excerpt from Howard Hill’s testimony (2:20 MP3)

Link to PDF file of Hill’s written testimony on the House Ag Committee web site

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