Pork Prices Climb As Swine Virus Kills Hogs Across The Nation

Mar 19, 2014

As UPR listeners who enjoy bacon or ham may have already noticed, the price of pork has been rising steadily for the last four weeks. The cause of the increase is a swine virus called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or PEDv that experts suspect made its way over from Asia in 2013. 

The PEDv virus is most harmful to young pigs.
Credit www.ars.usda.gov

Livestock Marketing Information Center Director Jim Rob says the disease began spreading rapidly in pork producing states, including Utah, late 2013.

The virus causes cold-like symptoms in adult pigs but can be deadly for piglets.

“This is a very severe situation because we have very high mortality rates that happen with the baby pigs,” Rob said.

The virus is no threat to humans, though it is easily spread between hog farms.

Rob predicts slaughter rates will be down by five to 10 percent compared to the same time last year.

“It’s had some very large impacts in recent weeks,” Rob said. “Nationwide we’ve had large declines in U.S. pork production because of this disease and it has caused hog prices and wholesale prices to move very quickly towards record high levels.”

Rob said we are currently seeing the highest mortality rates now and pork prices are expected to level off in the fall.

“Normally hog prices are the highest in the summer time so we will probably continue to scale up from record high prices for this time of year, we see that we’ll be at even higher prices for the summer months,” Rob said.

A vaccine for PEDv is currently in development.