FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2014
Agricultural Leaders of Michigan Applaud Sen. Stabenow’s Call for Aid to Combat Virus Affecting Michigan Pork Farms
Virus Has Killed Millions of Pigs Nationwide and Poses Threat to Michigan Pork Industry
LANSING – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide disaster funding for producers who have suffered losses due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) as well as provide additional research to stop the spread of the disease. PEDv has killed millions of pigs nationwide and poses a serious economic threat to Michigan’s pork producing industry. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Stabenow authored the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama at Michigan State University last month, and includes livestock disaster assistance funding which could provide critical support for Michigan’s pork producers.
PEDv has no impact on food safety and consumers are not at risk. However, the disease has been fatal in pigs.
“PEDv is a serious threat to pork production in Michigan,” said Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “Michigan’s pork farmers are ramping up biosecurity measures and taking every action possible to stop the spread of this disease, but some losses are inevitable. The disaster funding and research requested by Sen. Stabenow will make a huge impact on the ability of Michigan’s farmers to protect their animals and businesses. We thank Senator Stabenow for standing up for our industry and encourage USDA to provide help and support as soon as possible.”
Sen. Stabenow wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “Much like the rest of the livestock industry that suffered drought, fires and blizzards, these pork producers have no safety net to help compensate for their losses.” She also added, “If this disease persists, pork herds will continue to diminish and producers risk going out of business.”
Michigan’s pork producers are taking numerous steps to combat PEDv, including isolating new piglets that come onto the farm, proactive testing for the virus, enhancing biosecurity measures and stringent disinfection and cleaning protocols. In addition, producers are stepping up communications efforts to be sure that neighboring farms are aware of a nearby case of infection.
USDA reports that PEDv has been found in 26 states and economic experts estimate that more than 5 million piglets have been lost in the past several months, with over 1 million lost in January alone. It is believed that the strain of the virus affecting U.S. producers originated in China.