RALEIGH, NC (WECT/AP) – A viral outbreak is affecting nearly a third of North Carolina's 3,000 major hog farms.
The outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea kills nearly every piglet born on infected farms for several weeks until the herd develops immunity.
Less than 20 percent of sow and nursery farms that have been affected statewide are located in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties, according to Brian Long of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
A spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods would not say if the virus is affecting operations at its pork processing plant in Tar Heel.
Workers at the plant have a union contract that guarantees them a certain number of hours each week, but the hours can be lowered from time-to-time based on company needs, explained Nicky Coolberth, a spokeswoman for the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, which represents slaughter and processing workers.
Coolberth, who stressed the virus in an industry-wide problem, explained Smithfield had not requested the number of hours be lowered at its Tar Heel plant.
Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard