Misnaming the H1N1 influenza outbreak could cost the U.S. pork industry up to $400 million in the next few months due to lower market prices according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Initial reports erroneously referred to the disease as “swine flu."
"Reduced demand for pork could have adverse ripple effects throughout the hog sector, resulting in production changes as producers respond to lower prices," the report states.
"Hog producers may reduce planned farrowing due to lower prices. In addition, demand for weaned feeder pigs may decline the report says.
Mexico's agriculture department has confirmed that the H1N1 influenza did not originate from hogs at a Smithfield Foods operation which had been suspected by some. The pigs also tested negative for other viruses. "Speculation on the A-H1N1 flu's connections to the Mexican farm specifically and to hog farms generally would be irresponsible and would only bring further injury and pain to pork producers for something that was not of their making,” said Neil Dierks, chief executive officer of the National Pork Producers Council.
"Before the flu outbreak, pork producers were losing money, but things were looking up because we were heading into the grilling season. When this flu was misnamed, things went south, and producers' losses nearly doubled," said Dierks.
Read more information on the H1N1 name.