By Max Knowles Contributing columnist
April 14, 2014
Many pork producers are wondering and have asked, “Is there any financial assistance available from the federal government for a hog producer that has suffered losses from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv)?”
Several US senators, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, have urged the US Department of Agriculture to increase their efforts in the PEDv battle, asking for assistance with vaccine development efforts and have stressed the need for financial aid to pork producers experiencing financial losses from the virus.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, there is little anticipation of federal aid for PEDv losses. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA’s disaster assistance programs do not really apply in this case. Their Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish program (ELAP) helps provide emergency relief to producers covering losses from adverse weather events, such as blizzards and wildfires. USDA reports that the entire budget for the ELAP program is $20 million; which according to Vilsack, “is only about a tenth of the funds they would need to suitably compensate pork producers for their losses because of PEDv.” Vilsack added, “It would be up to Congress to approve disaster assistance for pork producers.” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a member of the US Senate Ag Committee, expressed his doubt while saying, “I have not heard enough talk among members of Congress on this issue, or even on the ag committee, that I can say that there’s a nucleus to move it along.”
Hog farmers and employees continue the fight against PEDv and it’s spread; by continuing to stress quality bio-security protocols for their operations. Since discovering the virus in the United States, “there have been over 5 million swine deaths as a result of PEDv” according to Vilsack. Pork producers should continue to voice their needs, challenges, and opinions to elected and regulatory officials.
Max Knowles is an Extension Agent with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Service.