The U.S. is not the only area affected by the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). In fact, the virus was discovered at a Simcoe County farm on Jan. 31. This was the fifth farm in Ontario where the virus has been found in less than two weeks. Ontario's Agriculture and Food Ministry continues to assure the country's consumers that the virus does not pose a public health threat. Meanwhile, Ontario Pork, which represents approximately 1,600 producers in the province, says that PEDV could cost the Canadian pork industry as estimated $45 million.
However, it might not end up costing individuals more to buy pork, as a price increase isn’t anticipated, Ontario Pork spokesperson Mary Jane Quinn said.
After circulating widely in Europe and Asia, the virus was first seen in the United States in April 2013. The fast-moving virus has since been found in more than 20 states and U.S. pig losses have been in the millions.
The United States Department of Agriculture announced the disease is leading to a decrease in pig production.
Because the virus has been in the U.S. since spring, Quinn noted that the price of imported pork into Canada may be affected.
Because the virus has just been discovered in Canada, and deaths occur in piglets, the disease's effect on domestic prices will be unknown for another eight or nine months, when the pigs' growth cycle is complete.
Quinn noted that the pork industry is trying to manage the disease outbreak, but PEDV is quite contagious and spreads easily, especially in the winter months. The virus can live in snow banks or on the bottoms of transport trucks.
Canada's pork producers are concerned, especially in Ontario, Quinn said. It’s a terrible loss to farmers themselves, who get confirmation of the virus in their herd as they are watching their pigs die. "It’s a very emotional, terrible thing to have to watch," Quinn noted.
The governments of both Ontario and Canada are providing $2 million to help Ontario Pork support industry-wide investments to improve biosecurity measures at critical points across the province, the agriculture ministry announced. These measures include assembly yard and truck washing stations.
Ontario Pork already has a plan to help stop the spread, and is reaching out to the industry to do its part, Quinn said. Ontario Pork is encouraging the entire industry to heighten their biosecurity protocols, as well as asking producers to make sure they are taking the time to do the proper cleaning and disinfecting.
Kathleen Wynne, the Premier and Agriculture and Food Minister, noted in a press release that Ontario pork is safe to eat, as well as a vital part of the agriculture sector. She emphasized that the organization is taking coordinated, comprehensive action against this virus, adding that they are here to help this crucial Ontario industry, especially those already affected by PEDV.
A ministry spokesperson told news agencies more pigs are expected to test positive for the virus in coming days.