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Why It’s Costing Americans Up to 20 Percent More to Bring Home the Bacon

Deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate in young pigs, causing steep declines in pig populations and steeper inclines in prices at the grocery counter.

It could cost Americans 20 percent more to get their bacon fixes as a deadline virus sweeps through the nation's hog barns. (Patch file photo)
It could cost Americans 20 percent more to get their bacon fixes as a deadline virus sweeps through the nation's hog barns. (Patch file photo)

Americans’ love affair with bacon is about to get more expensive.

The porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus has wiped out baby pigs at an alarming rate in 27 pork-producing states, meaning it could cost Americans 20 percent more to get their bacon fix.

PED is  fairly common and isn’t a health hazard to humans, Michigan Pork Producers Association Executive Vice President Vice President told WWJ/The Associated Press,

Mature hogs can recover from it, but piglets less than a month old suffer such severe diarrhea that they dehydrate.

In Michigan alone, the virus has wiped out piglets on 93 farms.

“There’s nearly 100 percent mortality with pigs less than three weeks of age,” Hines said.

The virus has killed millions of piglets in less than a year, resulting in a 7 percent decline in the pork supply. At the grocery counter, that will translate to increases of 10 to 20 percent, Hines said.

The pork industry has committed $1.7million to research how the virus, never before seen in the U.S., spread so quickly to after it was reported in the nation’s top pork-producing states –  Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Illinois. Scientists think it may have come from China, but they’re not sure how it got into the country. PED has also spread to pig herds in Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the pig kill reduced the nation’s pig herd by about 3 percent – or 63 million pigs.

A pound of bacon averaged $4.90 in March, a 13 percent increase from the year prior, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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