By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON, March 13 Two U.S. senators urged the
U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve disaster assistance
for small pork producers affected by a deadly virus that has
killed more than four million pigs across the United States in
the past year.
Democrats Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chair of the Senate
Agriculture Committee, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, the
number two U.S. hog producer, also urged increased research to
find a vaccine for Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), for
which no treatment currently exists.
"Pork producers that have been impacted by PEDv face
economic devastation," the senators wrote in a letter to U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, dated March 11 and released
"If this disease persists, pork herds will continue to
diminish and producers risk going out of business," they said.
PEDv causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in
pigs. It has a reported mortality rate of 80 to 100 percent for
piglets under two weeks old; older pigs have a better chance of
Cases have been increasing recently across the U.S. farm
belt. There have been 4,458 confirmed outbreaks of PEDv in 27
states, according to figures from the USDA's National Animal
Health Laboratory Network released on Thursday. Arizona became
the latest state to report the virus.
The virus has also been found in four Canadian provinces.
Pork processors have been finding it more difficult to buy
hogs for slaughter, and this has started to filter through the
A top official from Tyson Foods Inc said on
Wednesday that the virus was likely to result in higher pork
prices, as meat producers pass along to consumers their
increased input costs.