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USDA Renews Funding for Research, Education and Extension in Swine Health

Scott Elliott, (202) 720-7185

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2008 - USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) renewed funding today for the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP). The agency will invest $4.8 million over the next four years to reduce animal suffering and decrease economic losses from PRRS, which affects 60 percent of U.S. swine herds and costs the swine industry $580 million annually.

"A new strain of highly pathogenic PRRS has been found in China and Vietnam and is implicated as the primary cause of Porcine High Fever Disease, resulting in the death of large numbers of swine," said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. "Renewal of the PRRS project responds to the urgent need to make sure the right tools are available to keep this foreign strain from affecting the U.S. swine population."

CSREES originally funded the project to the University of Minnesota in 2004, bringing together a community of scientists, veterinarians, pork producers and industry to develop innovative strategies to lessen the impact of PRRS and work together to eliminate the virus.

The second phase of the PRRS CAP will be led by Kansas State University. It will focus on prevention and control tools; knowledge needed to support scientists; application of existing and new technologies in regional disease eradication efforts; and development of educational and outreach programs for scientists, producers and veterinarians.

To date, the PRRS CAP project has focused on understanding how the disease works and developing an effective vaccine and other tools for controlling infection. Recent findings now provide guidelines for maintenance of PRRS-free herds without the use of vaccination.

PRRS, which first appeared in the United States in 1986, costs the United States $580 million each year by causing reproductive failure in adult female pigs, reduced growth efficiency and pneumonia in nursing pigs, and potentially premature death in swine herds. The disease spreads easily among herds and is found worldwide and in all major swine producing areas of the United States.

The institutions and organizations participating in the PRRS CAP include Kansas State University, Iowa State University, National Pork Board, Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, South Dakota State University, Universidad Autonoma (Madrid, Spain), University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Veterinary Medicine (Vienna, Austria), USDA's Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Plum Island Disease Center, the ARS Beltsville Area Research Center, the ARS National Animal Disease Center, and Virginia Tech.

The project is funded through CSREES' National Research Initiative (NRI). The NRI program is the largest peer reviewed, competitive grant program at USDA for research, extension and education grants that address key problems of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

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