Killer Virus Driving Up Pork Prices, Creating Environmental Worries

Saturday, 05 Jul 2014 04:36 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
A deadly virus has been killing more than 100,000 piglets and young hogs every week since May 2013, driving up pork prices and and creating the potential for an environmental catastrophe.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDv) is spreading nationwide since it first showed up in Iowa last year, and as a result, according to records from the United States Agriculture Department, hog harvesting is down 4.2 percent this year alone, reports The New York Times.  That means just 50 million hogs have been slaughtered and processed this year, compared to more than 52 million for the same period in 2013.

The slaughter slowdown is forcing prices for bacon and center-cut pork chops up, with bacon prices rising more than 15 percent and pork chops up by 13 percent, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"I’ve been a vet since 1981, and there is no precedent for this," Paul Sundberg, vice president for science and technology at the National Pork Board, told The Times. "It is devastatingly virulent."

The board reports the disease is not communicable to humans or other animals. Further, according to a statement, it is not a new disease, but was first recognized in England in 1971. The disease has also been identified in a number of European countries, and more recently in China, Korea and Japan.

But though the virus does not affect humans, but there is still concern that the decomposing pig carcasses can host other diseases.

The animals' deaths are happening so rapidly, and at such high numbers, that environmentalists say their disposal could contaminate groundwater supplies, said Kelly Foster, senior attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance. The group has asked the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to declare a state of emergency and put a mass disposal plan into effect.

Waterkeeper has been posting photos on its website and videos on YouTube of dead piglets that are barely buried and of boxes filled with dead young piglets.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steven Troxler said in a letter to Waterkeeper that he believes existing disposal systems, which include composting and sending carcasses to rendering facilities can meet the challenges. Further, he said, the state is "not aware of any published scientific data" to show the groundwater has been contaminated.

Meanwhile, some of the state's large hog operations are protesting aerial photos of farms, and three state lawmakers have proposed a bill requiring state agencies to keep aerial photos of agriculture operations that include global positioning coordinates locked up.

There are no exact records about how many pigs have died from the disease, said to be 100 percent lethal to two-to-three-week-old piglets. The Agriculture Department did not require reporting the disease until June, and does not collect data, referring questions to the hog industry.

The National Pork Producers Council said it does not have its own figures, but has heard PEDv has killed about 8 million pigs. The virus has been reported in 31 states, and can survive and spread for long periods.

Work on a vaccine is underway, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has pledged $26.2 million to help fight the disease. The largest portion of the plan, some $11.1 million, will toward helping hog producers whose herds are infected enhance biosecurity practices.

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Woman to Plead Guilty in Texas DA Murder Case

Sunday, 28 Dec 2014 18:00 PM

The estranged wife of a former justice of the peace in North Texas is expected to plead guilty to murder in connection w . . .

Great White Shark Bites Central California Surfer

Sunday, 28 Dec 2014 17:57 PM

A man in his 50s surfing on the Central California coast survived an attack Sunday by a juvenile great white shark, stat . . .

Ebola Chief Says CDC Lab Incident Poses No Risk to Public

Sunday, 28 Dec 2014 16:16 PM

The U.S. Ebola response coordinator called the mishandling of materials that led to a lab technician's possible exposure . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved