The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 4, 2013

Nicollet hog breeder sues USDA over disease testing

NICOLLET — An international pork producer based in Nicollet County has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture claiming poor disease testing at an Iowa lab has kept the business from selling hogs to China.

The lawsuit filed by Compart’s Boar Store, a family-owned hog breeding  company north of Nicollet and west of St. Peter, says the company will lose more than $3.4 million in Chinese business. That income will be lost because faulty testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, resulted in Compart’s being barred from exporting to China for two years, according to a complaint filed in federal court last month. The laboratories are overseen by the Department of Agriculture.

Chinese buyers traveled to Compart’s facilities in 2011 to inspect the business’ breeding stock. At that time those buyers selected about 30 male hogs and about 300 female hogs to be shipped to China in August, the complaint said. Those animals were then isolated and they were tested for diseases.

Blood samples from all of the hogs sent to the Ames laboratories in July with a request that the samples be tested for the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, also known as blue-ear pig disease. The virus is contagious and can spread rapidly, so farms exporting to China are required to be free of the virus for two years.

Two different tests are completed during the quarantine. All of the hogs are tested using one type of test and a minimum of 10 percent of the hogs are tested using a second test known as the virus isolation test.

The first test of the 350 Compart’s hogs showed they were all negative for PRRS. When the virus isolation test was done on 50 of the hogs, the results came up as “inconclusive” for 10 of them.

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