Mexico restricts US hog shipments

Transportation companies responsible for shipping American hogs may find their routes changing significantly in the coming days and weeks. A new virus has spread to hog farms across the U.S., and the Mexican government is putting restrictions on hog imports to prevent the disease from spreading to pigs in that country. Shipments will now be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Outbreak gaining ground
An outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has struck a number of hog farms. The illness is deadly among young piglets, with Reuters reporting a mortality rate of 50 to 100 percent, and has spread to 13 states since it was first identified in the U.S. in mid-May. While PEDV can also affect adult hogs, the survival rate is much higher for older pigs.

It was initially believed the outbreak would be fairly easy to control, but authorities have encountered many difficulties attempting to contain the disease. Veterinarians, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are investigating how PEDV spreads and putting a special emphasis on the nation's hog transportation systems. They're also trying to determine how the disease entered the U.S., which has remained a mystery thus far.

Will PEDV impact the transportation industry?
With Mexico implementing new regulations on shipments of live U.S. hogs, drivers could notice changing routes in the future. Because the Mexican government implemented a case-by-case policy, some shipments could make it across the border while others may be turned away and sent back at the border. New rules state U.S. hog producers will need a permit from Mexico to ship live animals into the country. Farmers denied these permits will need to find other buyers for their animals, which could change delivery schedules significantly. If these instances emerge, carriers using route optimization software may be best able to quickly plan new runs and make deliveries in a timely manner.

It's not expected the disease will have an impact on drivers who transport pork products. Government officials have stressed that infected pigs are still safe to consume, and the virus poses no threat to humans. This means pork deliveries to grocers and food companies are likely to remain unaffected by the outbreak and carriers won't notice a change in schedules or routes.