Rushville Republican

Agriculture

August 15, 2012

Producers want the "swine" out of swine flu

RUSHVILLE — What's in a name? Everything if you're a pork producer and the name of the newest health scare makes people think twice about eating bacon.

The fast rise in the number of people diagnosed with the so-called "swine flu" over the last week has sent pork futures tumbling and re-awakened bad memories of the 2009 flu scare bearing the same name.

Health officials have gone to great lengths to call the new bug by a more official name, the variant influenza A (H3N2v), and to tell people it's safe to eat pork.

But the people who make their living raising and selling hogs fear its the other label that will stick, pointing to headlines that read: "Swine flu cases surge."

"It's amazing the impact of a name," said Mike Platt, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producers Association. "It's all about labeling and perception."

Indiana is the epicenter of what appears to be a new flu strain that's been dubbed the "swine flu" for a reason. It has the largest number of confirmed human cases in the U.S as of Thursday, at 120; and state health officials said all of those people infected with the bug got it from handling sick pigs.

The very first human case of a variant influenza A (H3N2v) was detected in Indiana in July 2011 Ñ found in a child who routinely handled pigs.

The Centers for Disease Control calls the variant influenza A (H3N2v) a "swine virus," meaning its yet to be detected as being passed from human to human, though it could be soon. The CDC also said this new flu strand carries genetic similarities to the first "swine flu" Ñ the H1N1 virus that sickened hundreds of thousands globally in 2009 and plunged the U.S. pork industry into a financial crisis when people stopped eating pork.

There is some bitter irony for pork producers this summer: The early detection of this new flu strand, and the loud alarm bells rung by health officials in response, stems in large part from the ramped efforts to test pigs for new flu virus strains after the H1N1 pandemic.

Now, as back then, health officials are saying there's absolutely no reason to stop eating pork or visiting pigs. But now, as back then, the message may not be getting through.

Unlike most crop farmers that have crop insurance that covers their losses, most hog farmers are without.

Indiana's pork industry, which employs about 13,000 people, took a massive financial hit in 2009 when people stopped eating pork. State agricultural officials estimated pork producers suffered a $50 million loss.

Text Only
Agriculture
  • Farmer ships Vidalia onions ahead of start date SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A major grower of Georgia's famous Vidalia onions said Wednesday he had begun shipping his crop early to supermarkets in defiance of the state agriculture commissioner, who has warned that a new regulation prohibits farmers from

    April 18, 2014

  • Hurt: WASDE report eases fear of low crop prices WEST LAFAYETTE - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's April 9 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates continued a series of recent reports that have offered corn and soybean producers a more optimistic grain-price outlook than what was expecte

    April 18, 2014

  • Seminar to discuss quality forages, quality meat for producers WEST LAFAYETTE - Forage and livestock producers who want to learn about the role forage quality plays in meat quality can attend the Indiana Forage Council seminar. This year's seminar, Quality Forage-Quality Meat, will be held in conjunction with th

    April 11, 2014

  • Purdue Agriculture and Extension events Here is a look at current and upcoming events for Purdue Agriculture and Extension. APRIL 9-16: HARDWOOD LUMBER WORKSHOP The Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is offering a workshop for those interested in the hardwood in

    April 11, 2014

  • Ag economist: Baby pig losses greatest in winter months WEST LAFAYETTE -- The impact of the PED virus in swine was felt most strongly during the unusually harsh winter months of December through February, Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt said Monday. He said this means the losses of bab

    April 4, 2014

  • Study reveals farmers' buying preferences, concerns WEST LAFAYETTE -- Agribusiness leaders nationwide can use results from a new Purdue University study to help them become more successful by understanding their farmer customers better. The Large Commercial Producer Survey, conducted every five years

    April 4, 2014

  • USDA extends Milk Income Loss Contract program for 2014 WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today announced the extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. The extended MILC protects dairy farmers enrolled in the program

    April 4, 2014

  • U.S., South American soybean farmers unite in China ST. LOUIS - Farmers representing countries that produce 90 percent of the world's soybeans recently met with the customers who buy 25 percent of the world's soybeans. As part of the International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA), leaders from the soy chec

    April 4, 2014

  • Wheat producers need to inspect crop as it breaks dormancy WEST LAFAYETTE - One of Indiana's coldest, snowiest winters in recent history could have damaged some of the state's winter wheat crop - a fact that necessitates field scouting, a Purdue Extension agronomist says. While snow cover insulates winter wh

    March 28, 2014

  • Home gardeners: 'Don't be fooled' by spotty nice weather WEST LAFAYETTE - Planting a home garden at the first sign of spring weather might cause big problems later, especially when more freeze days are likely ahead, a Purdue Extension horticulture specialist says. "Don't be fooled by the odd warm day we wi

    March 28, 2014