Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last week announced more than $26 million in aid to help combat PEDV, the swine disease affecting most of the country. Part of the funding will help develop new vaccines, while some of it will help affected producers adopt biosecurity measures to help prevent re-infection.
Unfortunately, re-infection has already been reported in some herds. The situation is serious enough that swine going to market could be down 10% this year by USDA estimates.
One question many Hoosiers are asking is if the disease will curtail swine shows at county fairs and the circuit show this year. Denise Derrer, head of communications for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, says that the Board issued a statement recently urging counties to adopt biosecurity measures, but not asking them to cancel shows. At this point only one county has cancelled their 4-H swine show – Dubois County.
Derrer says the new information from USDA and Federal Order which accompanies it will not change BOAH's viewpoint on exhibitions. The Federal order requires that new cases of PEDV be reported to USDA through the Animal and Plant Inspection Service, and to BOAH. That's so animal health officials can get a better handle on where the disease is and if it's spreading. It's similar to the policy in place for scrapie in sheep, Derrer says.
Related: Vilsack Announces PEDV Funding at World Pork Expo
What BOAH hoped those holding shows will do is stress biosecurity and use common sense. The disease is virulent and can be passed readily from animal to animal. One option is a terminal show where all animals go to market and none return home. Another option is for the producer who elects to take animals home to quarantine them for a week or more away from the rest of the herd and watch for signs of fever and infection.
Derrer also notes that as far as BOAH is aware, the Indiana State Fair at this point has no plans to alter their swine show either. Biosecurity practices will be emphasized.
We're glad to see USDA stepping in to help fund efforts to get this disease under control. We're also pleased that BOAH is taking a sensible approach. Panic and canceling all shows would deprive 4-Hers in their last year of an opportunity to show, and may or may not help prevent spread of the disease.
In the end it will be your choice if you have a commercial herd as to whether you allow your kids to take pigs to a non-terminal show, and whether or not you bring them back home into the herd. That's the way it should be – with the individual producer making the decision he or she feels is right.