The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stepped up its fight against porcine epidemic diarrhea, a deadly hog disease that has killed millions of pigs in the United States.
To track and slow the spread of the disease, the department is requiring hog farmers to report any cases in their barns.
In the last year, the nation's hog population has dropped at least three percent. About a thousand cases of the disease have been found on Minnesota farms.
Steve Meyer, an analyst for Paragon Economics, said reduced hog herds have forced some packing plants to cutback operations. He expects more will follow suit.
"When I've talked to the operators and packers in the Midwest, they expect to be doing kind of the same thing, beginning in May probably," Meyer said. "So, we're going to see plants that might take Friday or Monday off — just because they don't have enough hogs."
The disease is most dangerous to piglets, killing more than half of those infected. But it is not a threat to human health.
However, it has led to higher pork prices.