Cash hog prices have dropped by between $3 and $5 per hundredweight, just this week. Hog futures have been dropping on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The problem is “swine” flu, and the belief worldwide that one can contract the virus by eating a pork chop. You can’t contract the flu from bacon, ham, fatback, ribs or chops, of course. In fact, the CEO for the American Veterinary Medical Association tells Brownfield Network that this “particular H1N1 virus has no known origin back to swine.” Nobody knows even if pigs can get the swine flu.
No matter. Several nations have closed their borders to U.S. pork and analysts “predicted a sharp decline of pork sales in grocery stores, and some consumers began steering clear of pork chops,” according to the New York Times. This has thrown the pork industry into a tizzy. Stock prices for meat producers continued to plummet. (Late Thursday, the stock price for Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pork producer, was down another 6%.)
So the pork industry has gone into fifth gear in trying to separate swine from flu. House Ag Committee communications director Demert Slayton wrote in an email that the flu strain is “more properly” called H1N1. Slayton continued, according to The Hill: “If you could please try to refrain from using ‘swine flu’ to refer to the outbreak (and please no pig graphics), this would be extremely helpful as the U.S. tries to maintain international trade and consumer confidence in our nation’s swine industry.” Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to call the virus the “swine flu.”