On Friday, the USDA announced it would mandate the reporting of PEDv infection by pork producers and would implement a tracking system for animals and equipment. While generally supporting the new requirements, the pork industry has serious concerns about how the program will be implemented. Dr. Paul Sunberg, with the National Pork Board, says they cannot fully endorse the program until they have more details, “This announcement came with no details. We cannot talk about support until we have more details.” He said the announcement did have some good points, “There is still movement of hogs, and that is a good thing. And the agency says they are taking a practical approach, and that is a good thing.”
The USDA announcement said producers who have confirmed cases of PEDv must report that to the government which will then track the movement of those pigs as well as equipment from those farms. This is something Sunberg is worried about, “How will this information be collected, how will it be secure, and how will it be used? These are all questions we need to have answers to.”
Liz Wagstrum, chief veterinarian with the NPPC, says USDA is facing a tight timetable to get this program rolled out, “As we understand it, the agency has only a limited amount of time to obtain the funding for the program and get the details rolled out.” Sunberg says that the program USDA comes up with may set a precedent for how other animal diseases are dealt with, “This is not just about PED, but may set a precedent for other diseases. That is why we have to make sure it works well for producers and is a benefit for the industry.”
Several weeks ago, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairperson Deb Stabenow called on USDA to utilize disaster assistance funds to compensate producers for PEDv losses. She was joined in that call by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). On April 10, Senator Al Franken asked Sec. Vilsack to enhance detection capabilities and to take measures to prevent the virus from spreading. “USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols, sequenced the virus, and are investigating how the virus is transmitted,” Vilsack said in a press statement last week.