Anne has worked in agriculture since she was old enough to sweep the floor of the family machine shed. She writes about rural & outdoor life from the most remote county seat in the Lower 48, where she and her husband chase two children. Her experience ranges from picking apricots in 100 degree weather and working with Hutterite colonies, to discussing ag trade with the Ambassador of New Zealand and judging cured meats.
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As you may have noticed, my writing took a bit of hiatus for chunks of February and March. And you, dear reader, might have thought," Well, perhaps her husband read her Valentine's Day post and took her to the islands." Or maybe you thought the pile of seed catalogs tipped over and I required extensive extraction. I only wish. There is a four letter word to describe my life in the last 1.5 months...P-E-D-V.
PEDV stands for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and it also stands for devastation in the hog industry, regardless of your operation size. Here is a fast breakdown of info, straight from Pork Checkoff:
“Background: • PEDV is caused by a virus (Coronavirus) that is related to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus. • PEDV only infects pigs (NOT humans or other livestock). • This is a new virus to the U.S. and was first confirmed in the country on May 17, 2013.
Clinical signs: • In previously naïve herds, PEDV is similar to TGEand includes: » Severe diarrhea in pigs of all ages » Vomiting » High mortality -almost 100% in preweaned pigs”
And there you have it folks - farms with PEDV may lose up to 100% of the piglets while the disease runs its course through the herd. Montana's first case arrived in the first week of February, with a multitude of phone calls into my office from the producers affected, the producers concerned, veterinarians, state agencies and media. Our state and national leadership has worked hard to keep producers updated with the latest information. And, with that first phone call, I picked up a file box, loaded desk materials fitting the "everything else" paperwork category and shoved it UNDER the desk. This disease is important both because of the extreme financial tolls on affected producers and because of the emotional aspect. That's right...I said emotional. This is not just about a bottom line here people.
Because when a producer loses a majority of piglets it is emotional. Because when a producer is losing pigs and their neighboring barns are calling concerned about getting it, it is emotional. And because when the disease is so contagious between farms that your incoming traffic is limited for biosecurity, it is emotional.
In times of distress, people deal with the crisis in different ways. Perhaps you've seen the zillion ways to deal with introverts and extroverts (often complete with handy little charts of differences) posted on Facebook. Some shut down all communication. Others talk to anyone, everywhere, everytime to discuss benefits, pitfalls. They make little charts of their own. I'll give you less than five seconds to guess what category I fall into.....
But at the end of the day, communication is absolutely ESSENTIAL for both personality types. And the most rewarding moments of the past month and a half have involved producers wanting to freely share information on their disease status to protect other herds, large and small. This is significant because it is selfless. As a non-reportable disease, they are not required to share their farm's PEDV information. But as an advocate for agriculture and their industry, they are choosing to protect and care about one another. Because that is what farmers and ranchers do. And that, my readers, has been one emotional experience in all of this disease mess that has been worth having.