Two issues are dominating the news in the pork industry this week: the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and the low levels of hog slaughter since Sept. 1.
The key to realize about these two issues is that at present they are not related. The timing simply does not match. The earliest known case of PED virus in the United States was April 15. There are a number of producers and packer employees who are claiming that PED virus was in the United States and active in many herds well before April 15, and is thus responsible for the current short hog numbers.
I do not know where those conclusions are coming from. But I know from a number of legitimate, knowledgeable sources in the veterinary medicine community that the diagnostic labs went back and retested samples dating back to last fall (November, I believe) and found no PED virus-positive samples before that April 15 case. There may be black helicopters, the lunar landings may indeed have been faked and the Tri-Partite Commission may actually run the world, but I do not believe that PED virus was active in the United States before April 15. The scientific evidence simply does not support any other conclusion. And ours is an industry based on science, correct?
But PED virus is spreading and impacting more and more sows. North Carolina continues to see more cases – about 100 for the five weeks that ended Oct. 13. News circulated last week of some breaks at several large sow farms in Iowa.
Futures markets have been sharply higher since last Wednesday as piglet losses mount. I still do not expect to see any PED virus-driven supply reductions until December since losses did not become significant until July. But the losses in North Carolina beginning in September and now those in Iowa will begin impacting numbers even more in March and beyond.