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June 16, 2014

Swine loss high

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma has lost about 8 percent of its swine inventory due to a virus sweeping across the country, and the executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council says the loss has driven consumer prices higher.

“The toll is tremendous in the loss of pigs, but it’s bigger than that,” Roy Lee Lindsey told The Journal Record. “When you consider the people who work on these farms, everything they’re taught from the first day is that they have to take care of their pigs.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on June 5 ordered producers, veterinarians and diagnostic labs to report positive occurrences of the virus porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED.

State Department of Agriculture veterinarian Justin Roach said the virus cannot be passed to humans.

The National Pork Producers Council reported that an estimated 7 million piglets nationwide died in 30 states since the virus was first detected last spring. Oklahoma typically has a collective inventory of about 2.3 million hogs. Lindsey said a PED-infected sow will lose every piglet born for three to five weeks, and a typical commercial operation will farrow baby pigs from about 5 percent of its sows each week. According to Lindsey, that equates to about a 7.5 percent loss, although his research suggests the actual number has been higher.

The local industry is fairly satisfied with the federal government’s response and Vilsak’s promise to invest as much as $30 million into monitoring systems, Lindsey said.

But low supplies have driven domestic prices 40 percent higher in recent months and current exports are up 10 percent compared with a year ago.

“Every estimate is that those prices are going to rise another 10-12 percent throughout the summer,” Lindsey said.

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