Brussels | Reuters –– European Union member states on Friday agreed that live pig imports from the U.S. and Canada must be tested for a deadly virus that has killed millions of U.S. piglets.
The latest measures complement import requirements on pig blood products that may be used for feeding piglets — requirements to which the EU agreed last month.
In a statement, the European Commission, the EU executive, said the temporary testing was to protect the EU pig industry from porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), which has swept the U.S. and helped to push pork prices to record highs.
The U.S. and Canada exported some 900 pigs for breeding purposes to the EU in 2013, the Commission said.
The EU does not need to import pigs for food because it produces 22 million tons of pork annually, more than enough for EU needs.
The EU executive has also asked the European Food Safety Authority to research new strains of the virus, which it said will enable a more thorough review of the disease situation and risk mitigation measures.
As the United States battles the disease, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ordered farmers to start reporting cases of the virus and pledged more than US$26 million in funding to help stamp it out. [Related story]
Since the PED virus (PEDv) arrived in the U.S. early last year, it’s been confirmed in hogs on just over 7,100 farms across 30 states.
In Canada, where the virus was first diagnosed in hogs in January, it’s been confirmed on 63 farms in four provinces, mostly in southwestern Ontario.
The most recent case, Ontario’s 59th, was confirmed Wednesday on a farrow-to-finish operation in Middlesex County. Up until then, the province had not detected any on-farm PED cases since April 30.
— Reporting for Reuters by Barbara Lewis in Brussels. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.