At this year's World Pork Expo, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is the main topic of conversation.
PEDv is almost always fatal in young piglets under a few weeks old, and has had a serious effect on pigs per litter, which is a key supply metric.
Fewer animals mean that currently it's profitable to send heavier hogs to slaughter, and that's offset some of the losses. But demand for pork means weights will need to eventually come down as more animals are sent to slaughter.
And as president of Adel-based Paragon Economics Steve Meyer observes, losses for late last year and early this year haven't show up yet in monthly slaughter numbers.
"If we trace those six months forward we really shouldn't see those biggest loss months of January, February, March affect supply until July, August, and September. So, we were down over six percent in March we were down five percent in April we were down something like 4 percent in May." He says, "I think that's kind of in line with the death losses we saw last fall and I still expect these slaughter rates to fall significantly below a year ago as we get into the third quarter."
PEDv is also an issue for the World Pork Expo itself. In the swine barn at the State Fairgrounds, the National Swine Registry is holding its Junior National contest, with no shortage of show pigs.
Biosecurity isn't exactly new to the National Swine Registry. CEO Mike Paul says his organization has a show nearly every month somewhere in the United States, and that in addition to observing state laws governing the exhibition of animals, all animals with the National Swine Registry travel with a certificate of veterinary inspection.
Of course, that's not to say that nothing is different with PEDv in the mix.
Paul says, "We had visited with several different veterinarians early in the year about what we should do for our events this year and we did add a statement that exhibitors, their farms or farms of origin could not have PED within 60 days of coming to an event."