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Healthy hogs that made it to market last year fetched a high price. But millions of piglets were lost to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. (File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Healthy hogs that made it to market last year fetched a high price. But millions of piglets were lost to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. (File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Bacon and pork chops could become cheaper this year thanks, in part, to fewer pigs getting sick with the virus that devastated hog farms in 2014.

The infection rate of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus reached its peak in February and March of last year, killing millions of piglets and sending summer pork prices soaring as fewer hogs reached the market.

Infections decreased significantly by summer and have stayed lower. Still, veterinarians are cautioning producers to stay on guard.

The majority of antibiotics sold each year in the U.S. are used to treat livestock, rather than humans. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
The majority of antibiotics sold each year in the U.S. are used to treat livestock, rather than humans. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

In the budget President Obama is sending to Congress he’s asking for more than a billion dollars to combat antibiotic resistance, and some of that money would focus on animal agriculture.

Antibiotic resistance can make common medications ineffective, meaning sick people don’t get better and doctors have fewer options to treat bacterial infections.  

Among the President’s initiatives to stall this growing problem, Obama proposes sending the Agriculture Department $77 million to find ways to reduce use of antibiotics on the farm. The budget proposal nearly quadruples the current funding designated for such research, according to the White House.

A global glut of wheat is keeping prices low for farmers. (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/Flickr)
A global glut of wheat is keeping prices low for farmers. (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/Flickr)

2014 brought with it an abundance of grain for Midwest farmers. And it doesn’t look likely to change in 2015. But while farmers wait for a rebound, the new year could bring substantive policy change.

Great Plains farmers are unlikely to see relief in 2015 from sluggish commodity crop prices, according to Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs with K-Coe Isom, one of the country’s largest agricultural consulting firms. Kuehl spoke at an economic forecast event in Greeley, Colo.

A rebound from drought in much of the U.S., and bumper crops in other parts of the world, have caused a grain glut that has pushed down prices for corn, wheat and soybeans. Farmers are coming off a couple seasons of some of the highest corn prices in years.

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