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USDA, BOAH remove pig virus reporting obligation


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Just a few years ago, U.S. swine farmers were dealing with a rash of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) cases, to the extent that in 2014 USDA imposed a rule for any positive diagnoses to be reported to a producer’s state and for the producer to craft a mandatory herd management plan going forward.

A year ago, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) voted to remove the herd plan requirement, on the heels of USDA doing the same on the basis that the information in the plans was not useful to USDA’s swine enteric coronavirus disease program. This year, BOAH seems set to repeal the reporting requirement itself.

“In 2014, PED was a huge thing,” recalled Mark Legan, a BOAH board member and swine producer in Putnam County. “It was spreading like wildfire, and USDA felt like it needed to do something.”

Since then, Legan and other producers have learned more about the diseases (there were at least two PED viruses in 2013), to make changes to their farms cutting down on the spread of pathogens, and processing plants have also instituted changes to do the same, such as in how delivery trucks are unloaded.

“To my knowledge, most of the farms that continue to be affected are finishing sites,” Legan added.

BOAH voted unanimously on a first reading April 17 to repeal the state-level requirement, in line with the USDA change; but it requires a second reading, public hearing and vote – most likely at its July 10 quarterly meeting – to take effect. Because of this, the board also passed a 90-day emergency rule that does the same thing, meant as a “bridge” between now and a permanent repeal.

If the repeal does not pass in July, BOAH can vote to extend the emergency rule by 90 more days, until its October meeting.

State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh said USDA made its change at the request of the swine industry. He explained it’s unusual for USDA to rescind a rule like this, but the agency was persuaded that the data the states were collecting really couldn’t be used for anything productive.

Marsh said Indiana had a “growing list of names that wasn’t doing any good” and explained, “Unless you intend to do something with it, it’s just names on a list.”

What the rule repeal means is that producers can still have their pigs tested at a university or other lab for PED or PDCoV, but the results do not have to be reported to the state (though as with any test results, they do stay in the lab’s database).

Sanitation, dairy rules adopted

Another first reading that passed last week’s meeting was a proposed rule concerning meat and poultry sanitation. BOAH Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement Sarah Simpson said these rules are periodically passed to bring the state into compliance with updated federal rules to govern state-inspected facilities, and that it should not increase costs for those.

There will be a second reading and hearing on July 10.

The board passed a final reading and rule on dairy sanitation, also intended to have Indiana comply with federal mandates. That first reading was at its January meeting.

In other milk news, Marsh and Patrick Hash, director of BOAH’s dairy division, talked briefly about Dean Foods’ announcement last month that it is dropping 27 producer contracts in Indiana (about 100 region-wide) as of May 31. Marsh said his office has reached out to the affected farmers and is trying to help.

“It’s challenging; it’s tough,” he said. “It’s one thing to try to anticipate a change in the market, but 90 days (from notification of termination – the May 31 date) rolls around pretty fast.”

Hash said as of last week he knew one farm had found a new buyer for its milk, but none others, though he understood more are in talks with potential buyers. State Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler, who sat in this quarter’s BOAH meeting, said he heard about 8-10 farmers might be close to signing such agreements.

A new Walmart milk processing plant is expected to be “fully operational” by early summer in Fort Wayne, according to BOAH. Hash said he had spoken to company officials about trying to help some of those ex-Dean contractors find a market there instead, but was told Walmart is already fully contracted for suppliers.

The July 10 meeting should begin at 9:30 a.m. at Discovery Hall, Suite 100, on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, and is open to the public.