Experts estimate that since last spring, an epidemic of porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, virus has killed about a million baby pigs at farms all over the country. The virus, which can cause deadly dehydration in baby pigs, has been spreading from farm to farm since it was first found in Iowa -- and Canada reported its first case earlier this week.
The good news is that lower feed prices might prevent pork prices from going sky high, at least for now.
See also: How to Roast a Pig with Bink's Midtown
Despite many farms raising bio-security measures, the virus has been spreading steadily and shows no sign of abating soon. PED virus can survive in tiny bits of manure and seems to thrive in the cold weather much of the country is experiencing. Even worse, the only vaccine currently on the market won't protect all piglets from sickness.
Rodney Baker, a professor of veterinary medicine at Iowa State University, told NPR that he estimates total losses by the end of the winter could be as high as 3 million to 4 million pigs. Though that's a small portion of the country's total swine herd, it's still a big loss for pork producers.
Farmers are trying to avoid a sharp increase in price by putting more meat on the pigs that are able to make it to market. And thankfully due to last year's large corn harvest, feed prices are cheaper than usual.
It's important to note that the virus doesn't pose a risk to human health. Other than the price of bacon that could hurt your wallet in the future.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.