Repeat incidences of deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus on the same farm can happen, an Indiana veterinarian told Reuters last week.

Speaking on behalf of his farmer clients, who did not wish to be identified, Matt Ackerman said a secondary incidence of the disease, which has killed an estimated 7 million pigs in North America, was identified.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) has stated that PEDv outbreaks appear to recur on about 30 percent of farms nationwide. Earlier efforts to eliminate the disease were based on the assumption that infected pigs develop immunity and can’t contract the disease again for several years.

Ackerman said he did not know why the sows on the Indiana farm were re-infected after being exposed to the virus during the original outbreak last year. At the time, they were about six months to a year old.

The sows are having piglets and passing limited immunity on to their offspring, he said.

The AASV says repeat cases tend to be not as severe the second time, with a piglet death rate of 30 percent, compared to the near total loss of initial outbreaks.

China, Iowa pact

Iowa officals will sign an agreement this week with China’s Ministry of Commerce and four provinces to expand trade and investment opportunities.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and five other state departments will sign the memorandum of understanding on Thursday at the state Capitol in Des Moines, according to the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Private purchase agreements for value-added agricultural products from Iowa will also be signed by representatives of the Iowa Soybean Association.

Japan, U.S. trade talks

The National Pork Producers Council joined dairy, wheat and rice groups last week in calling on the Obama administration to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations without Japan unless that nation agrees to provide significant market access for the United States.

The demand came as Japan and the United States resumed talks aimed at narrowing differences over Japan’s tariffs on beef, pork and other farm products.

According to reports from the recent TPP trade ministerial meeting in Singapore, Japanese Minister of the Economy Akira Amari said Japan will not abolish tariffs in the agricultural sectors it considers "sacred" – dairy, sugar, rice, beef, pork, wheat and barley.

The groups noted that Japan is not honoring the promise "to pursue an agreement that is comprehensive and ambitious in all areas" that it agreed to when it joined the TPP negotiations.

The affected groups also outlined reservations about the precedent the negotiations could set for the future, saying "the broad exemption that Japan is demanding will encourage other partner countries to withhold their sensitive sectors as well."

Mixed effects of El Nino

Fear over the effects of El Nino is working its way into commodity price predictions. Currently, U.S. investment managers are expecting increased prices in all 16 major agricultural futures markets, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.

Historically, El Nino has led to dry conditions in Australia, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, while wet conditions tend to be seen in South America, Central America and parts of the United States. In extreme El Nino years, drought has ravaged Australian wheat and barley crops.

"Past experiences have taught us that El Nino years tend to be favorable for the central U.S. corn and soybean growing areas," said Jay O’Neil, Kansas State University senior agricultural economist. "We can take solace in the belief that El Nino should not have a substantial negative impact on our crop production."

Biodiesel downturn

A recent survey conducted by the National Biodiesel Board found that nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers have scaled back production this year and more than half have idled production at a plant altogether. Two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn, which they attribute to the weak RFS proposal and the expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive.

Ethanol plant uses sugar

The Aventine Renewable Energy ethanol plant in Aurora, Neb., has resumed production, using surplus sugar purchased from the Department of Agriculture.

This is probably the first in­­stance of an ethanol plant in Nebraska using sugar, said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Neb­raska Ethanol Board. The plant will shift back to corn in August.