The Pork Checkoff on Tuesday announced additional funds, research partnerships and plans for industry collaboration to fight against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.
The funding includes $650,000 from the checkoff, and $500,000 through a new agreement with Genome Alberta for research.
PEDv, which was first identified in the U.S. in May, is a highly transmissible disease with symptoms similar to transmissible gatstroenteritis that commonly affects piglets.
"This has become one of the most serious and devastating diseases our pig farmers have faced in decades," said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board. "While it has absolutely no impact on food safety, it has clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers. Our No. 1 priority is to address PEDV."
As part of Tuesday's announcement, the Pork Checkoff also unveiled plans for a new collaboration with a number of industry players, including the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Protein Producers, which is made up of five member-companies throughout the United States and Canada.
Working together, the Checkoff says the project will align swine, feed and veterinary groups to bring an even higher level of collaboration in the fight against the disease. Now active in some parts of Canada, PEDV continues to cause a heavy loss of piglets on farms across the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, PEDV has surfaced in 26 states. Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a Pork Checkoff consultant, estimates the loss of more than 5 million piglets in the past several months, with 1.3 million lost in January alone.
"Losses of this magnitude will ultimately have a consumer impact through a reduction in supply," Meyer said. "Some pork supply will be made up through producing higher market-weight hogs and through other loss mitigation actions, but today we are already seeing summer pork futures climb to record levels."
Part of the Checkoff's supplemental funding of $650,000 will be used for feed-related research to better understand the potential role feed may play in PEDV transmission. Also, a portion of the funding will be used to identify ways to increase sow immunity and to better understand transmission and biosecurity risks. This brings the current level of Checkoff-funded research to approximately $1.7 million since June 2013.
"That investment will be centered on further containing PEDV with a specific focus on feed research and related issues, building the immunity of breeding herds and biosecurity measures," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board.