- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the federal government is investing millions of dollars as part of an increased effort to fight a deadly pig virus.

The federal government would pump $26 million into fighting PEDv, also known as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, Vilsack said Thursday at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. The disease has killed an estimated 8 million pigs - about 10 percent of the country’s hog inventory - over the past year, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1p2LVQB ).

The money will help producers report to local, state or federal veterinarians when they’re affected by the disease. They’ll also be expected to develop a biosecurity management plan to monitor and control their respective farms.

“We recognize it is important to focus on creating a better understanding of these viruses, a better understanding of how they got into this country, and a better understanding of how to deal with them once they’re here and how to deal with the eradication and elimination of them,” he said.

The agency said in April it would seek the reporting measure. It also includes examining a similar disease known as porcine deltacoronavirus.

“This does not involve a restriction in movement. It doesn’t involve a quarantine,” he said. “But it does involve the need for reporting, and the need for a monitoring and management plan.”

The funding announced Thursday could jump to $30 million with the agency’s 2015 budget request for nearly $4 million to research a vaccine for the disease.

Vilsack said aggressive action against the disease was important.

“This is too important an industry to this country,” he said. “We need to protect producers, protect jobs and protect consumers” who have seen pork prices rise.

Ron Prestage, a South Carolina veterinarian and producer, said the collection of data will be beneficial, but the federal government needs to be “very, very careful it doesn’t create a bureaucratic red-tape mess with the submission of herd health and biosecurity plans, especially for small producers.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com