Farming and your freedom: USDA Secretary says guv’ment here to help!

by Peter Graham, Columnist

A lot of people find it difficult to trust the Federal Government these days, but, according to Agriculture Online, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to help American pork producers in their hour of need.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack attended the World Pork Expo in Des Moines recently and announced, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” Ag Online noted that it’s an old joke and those weren’t the secretary’s exact words, but you get the picture.
Pork producers have been fighting Epidemic Diarrhea virus and were, Ag Online said, in no mood for any jokes, but Vilsack was serious in wanting his agency to help fight the epidemic that has killed 10 percent of all new pigs born this year.
The virus, called PED, came on quickly last year. Vilsack said he attended the expo last year and found only 100 producers who had encountered the virus. This year, 150 new farms are being seen weekly. At least 4,700 farms have been infected so far.
Vilsack pledged federal money immediately, saying, “We need to deal with it aggressively.” No congressional approval is needed, and $26 million is from this year’s budget.
The federal order requires producers, veterinarians and diagnostic labs to report all cases of PED, and related coronavirus diseases, to the USDA and state animal control officials. Til now, reporting had been voluntary. The secretary said mandatory reporting will help officials to monitor, trace, and control the disease, Ag Online reported. It will also allow officials to bring stringent biosecurity measures to farms and to regions affected by the outbreak.
Some experts believe the virus is of Chinese origin. Howard Hill, president of National Pork Producers, said he is very pleased with Vilsack’s announcement, and that $30 million is exactly what the industry leadership had requested. So, in this case, at least, Uncle Sugar can be of significant help in a real crisis.
I’ll see ya!