The disease is called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, and over the last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture believes it has wiped out as many as 7 million young pigs—about a 10th of the national swineherd.
"The baby pigs, less than ten days, it causes about 100 percent mortality," Sailer said. (The virus is not a danger to humans.)
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That loss of production is one reason pork prices have skyrocketed. Bacon at the retail level tops $10 a pound in some places. "Right now, the price for a 40-pound pig is over double what it normally is," said David Struthers, another Iowa hog farmer.
But prices may start to come down.
"We're going to see probably lower prices of pork come the fourth quarter, because the virus doesn't like hot weather," Struthers said. Meanwhile, hog farmers are "trying to breed as many sows as possible to bring the production numbers back up."
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Larry Sailer added that prices may also come down as other countries avoid American hogs because of fears the virus will spread overseas.
"We're having a little bit of trouble with Japan right now...and of course we're having a problem with Russia and Ukraine, so our exports might be down a little anyway, so that might offset the lower supply that we have," he said. "It might work out just about right."