USDA mandates PEDV reporting

There will be no phasing in of mandatory reporting of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDV) virus.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced June 5 effective immediately, producers must report the disease to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or their state veterinarians.

“We have 4,700 operations that been affected, with 150 to 200 more cases each week,” he said at the World Pork Expo.

“We have to deal with it aggressively. Producers cannot afford to see millions of pigs die.”

The federal order includes both strains of PEDV as well as delta-coronavirus.

Additionally, the federal order requires producers to work with their herd veterinarians to develop and implement a PEDV-management plan.

Vilsack said these plans will include current recommendations for dealing with the virus, such as biosecurity plans and disinfecting.

The information also will help APHIS track movement of the virus.

Vilsack said the mandate does not prohibit pig movement around the country.

“There is a need for monitoring and a management plan.”

He also announced the USDA has committed $26.2 million to the battle against PEDV.

The largest percentage of that pot, a total of $11.1 million, will be available on a cost-share basis with producers to boost their biosecurity programs.

Another $3.9 million will be used by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to support vaccine development.

Money also will be available to state veterinary offices, diagnostic testing efforts, herd veterinarians and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

Vilsack added he has asked for another $30 million as part of the 2015 USDA budget.

“We are focusing on creating a better understanding of these viruses, as well as the pathway of the viruses,” he said. “We will work hard to do a better job of handling the next event.”

Vilsack said there are many viruses around the world that could potentially reach U.S. soil. Should that occur, he added it will be handled on a case by case basis.

“The speed of this virus is a concern, and with multiple strains, it creates some urgency in getting our hands on it,” Vilsack said.

“We want to keep this on the farm and help producers to manage it and prevent the spread of it.”

He said the USDA continues to investigate how the virus came to the United States.

“I can’t confidently tell you we know where this came from. “We need to continue to discuss trade agreements, but we have to make sure we address the potential risk of disease coming into this country.”

While the USDA has the authority to punish producers who do not report PED, Vilsack believes that will not be an issue.

“We trust producers, and they understand this is in their best interest to work with us. It’s in everyone’s best interest to get a handle on this disease.”

Pork industry officials generally were pleased with the announcement.

Howard Hill, a producer and veterinarian from Cambridge and president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said all details of the program are yet unknown, but he is encouraged by USDA’s effort.

“The funds are going to be available immediately, which is helpful,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to get significant dollars to help us with this, and we are hopeful the plan will work.”

Tom Burkgren, a veterinarian and executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said he believes producers will be able to work with their herd veterinarians to develop a management and monitoring plan.

“Once it’s approved by your accredited herd veterinarian, that’s all USDA needs, the way I understand it,” he said.

Neil Dierks, CEO of the NPPC, said the announcement sends the message the USDA is on board with the pork industry when it comes to fighting PEDV.

“There are a lot of unknowns. We still don’t have it figured out,” he said.

“But, they have been listening to us. I’m feeling pretty good about what they are doing.”