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Bacon Prices to Surge with Porcine Virus

Created: 04/11/2014 5:41 PM KAALtv.com
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of baby pigs in less than a year, and with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it's threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10 percent or more.

"Prices have been going up for several weeks now," said owner of the Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe Terry Timm. He's been there for 37 years and says he's never seen the cost of pork so high. "The most I've ever paid and I’ve been here a long time and haven't seen prices like this," said Timm.

A pound of bacon averaged 13 percent more than a year ago. Ham and chops have gone up too, but in the farming business, there are always a lot of factors that weigh into price "Those trucks run up and down the road and they transport our livestock and our consumer items, it costs to run," said meat shop worker Justin Everhart. 

This one though, we haven’t seen in the U.S. before. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea has spread to 27 states and it’s estimated 3 to 6 million pigs have died from it. The pork industry has also forked out almost 2 million to prevent the disease. “It’s just hard to say until it’s over. You know, last year we had a scare that said that we were going to be paying 10 dollars a pound for bacon, it never materialized,” said Timm.

However, if PED continues to spread, pork prices are predicted to skyrocket. "Those futures don’t always hold true, but if they do, we'll be in for a real rough ride this summer," said Timm.

Still, if it's costing farmers and the butcher shop more, it’s going to cost buyers more. "A dollar a pound on buying it, that reflects more than a dollar a pound on the table," said Timm.

The U.S. is both a top producer and exporter of pork, but production could decline about 7 percent this year compared to last. The biggest drop in more than 30 years. To note, PED does not affect humans or other animals.