Hog farmers are continually striving to keep disease from entering their farms. Knowing what diseases are out there is part of the problem, and Minnesota pork producers are trying to get a better handle on that. They are particularly interested in the movement of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.
Minnesota producers finish 15 million hogs a year. According to the state Board of Animal Health, 5.9 million pigs come into Minnesota from other states and another million come in from Canada.
Certificates of Veterinary Inspection are required for hogs coming into Minnesota, and the state’s Pork Producers Association is proposing to partner with the state BAH to start gathering information on the origin herd status relative to PRRS and PEDV for pigs entering the state. If this proposal is adopted by the MPPA board, the BAH would be asked to request that CVIs include a statement disclosing the PRRS and PEDV status of the original herd of pigs coming into the state.
The key word there is request. Wisconsin, Minnesota’s neighbor to the east, requires that PRRS and PEDV status be included on CVIs. Hogs coming into Wisconsin that are PEDV-positive will not be allowed to enter the state. Hogs coming into Wisconsin from PRRS- or PEDV-positive herds will not be restricted in movement.
Conversely, the Minnesota proposal, if adopted, would not restrict movement of any hogs, regardless if they come in with a PRRS- or PEDV-positive declaration on the CVI.
David Wright, a veterinarian with Wright Veterinary Services at Buffalo, Minn., presented the proposal during an open forum at the recent Minnesota Pork Congress. Bill Hartmann, state veterinarian with the Minnesota BAH, helped with the presentation.
Wright assured those attending that this, if approved, would be a voluntary program. Stressing that PRRS and PEDV control “remains a responsibility of the swine industry, government won’t step in because these diseases don’t impact human health or exports.”
Specific herd information is protected, made that way seven to eight years ago when legislation was passed to keep producers’ information private, Hartmann said. The three exceptions to that rule, Hartmann says, if the information would be helpful in protecting animal health, public health or if necessary for law enforcement purposes.
Though specific herd details will be kept confidential, Wright says disease information gleaned from the CVIs will be shared with producers to create a picture of the swine disease landscape within the state.
The executive board of the state pork producers will consider this proposal at one of their next meetings, with the intent of having the program operating efficiently by this fall when disease concerns are usually on the rise.
“We have a national herd, not local herds,” Wright says. “we’re trying to promote transparency; get producers to share herd health information. It behooves us to remain transparent.”
As with any voluntary program, participation is not guaranteed. But, for such a program to succeed and provide the best swine health picture, high participation is necessary.
Producers need to care enough about the greater good of their industry, and by extension their own farms to push that this proposal gets adopted, then they need to take this a step further by participating and sharing the health status of their mobile hog herd.
As in the words of Dave Preisler, Minnesota Pork Board executive director, “We want to do what’s right for producers,” and by extension, the entire industry.