Many farms in China infected with African swine fever are not restocking with pigs. Bloomberg News reports that 80 percent of farms infected with the deadly virus are not restocking, leaving a significant gap in production.
China is the world’s largest pork producer, but agriculture officials in China say production has dropped 21 percent since African swine fever was first reported last August. And, a new outbreak on an island province was reported over the weekend. The declining hog production in China will result in lower demand for soybeans and feed products, but an increase in the need for pork products. Officials in China say, “if confidence among breeders fails to recover, it will hurt consumers.”
They predict pork supplies could start to tighten and prices may hit record levels in the second half of the year, before tightening further in 2020. Pork accounts for more than 60 percent of meat consumption in China.
With The global African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in China is wreaking havoc on the international pork industry. Fortunately, ASF is not in the United States at this time, but the possibility of it or another foreign animal disease (FAD), means that American pig farmers must take the necessary steps to protect their farms and the domestic pork industry.
As U.S. pig farmers know, a robust export market is critical to the ongoing success of the nation’s pork industry. In 2018, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds valued at $6.392 billion, according to USDA. If an FAD such as ASF entered the United States, it would likely eliminate this entire valuation to zero for an unknown amount of time. Taking steps to prevent it from occurring require immediate action such as those outlined in resources in this newsletter and found at www.pork.org/fad.
On-Farm Biosecurity Resources
To help guard against FADs, consider using these checklists and fact sheets for pigs raised indoors or outdoors. They stress the importance of having an enhanced biosecurity plan in place that is unique to your own farm’s needs.
Know the Signs…
Anyone who works with pigs should be familiar with the signs of ASF in the animals:
- High fever
- Decreased appetite and weakness
- Red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Coughing and difficulty breathing
To help ensure none of these signs are overlooked, be sure to get your free hard copies of FAD Barn Posters and fact sheets from the Pork Checkoff in English or Spanish by going to the Pork Store via pork.org.
With the official report coming late last week that the island province of Hainan was positive for African swine fever (ASF), China is now essentially ASF-positive in its entirety. In the west, Xinjiang was found to be positive in early April, followed shortly by Tibet. The only areas not known to be ASF-positive now are the city-based zones of Hong Kong and Macau, which are in the extreme south of China.
Since its discovery in China in August 2018, Rabobank estimates that ASF has affected 150 million to 200 million pigs, which is nearly 30% larger than annual U.S. pork production and equivalent to Europe’s annual pork supply. These losses cannot easily be replaced by other proteins (chicken, duck, seafood, beef and lamb), nor will larger imports be able to fully offset the loss. The firm believes this will result in a net supply gap of almost 10 million metric tons in the total 2019 animal protein supply, which could be a leading driver of recent pork import announcements.
Cambodia Joins Vietnam as ASF-Positive
The recent notice by the OIE, which flagged Cambodia as being positive for ASF, revealed that 400 pigs died from the disease and another 100 pigs were culled. The outbreak is in the northeastern-most Rattanakiri province bordering Vietnam, which was itself found to be ASF-positive on Feb. 19.
Most of Vietnam’s 556 cases of ASF outbreak have occurred in this northern area. Some Vietnamese officials have said that the virus may have entered the country via people who brought infected pigs from China or from China-made hog feed.
In a report by the World Organization for Animal Health last week, South Africa now has a case of ASF outside of its ASF control zone (in blue area on map beyond red line of control zone). The announcement was triggered by news of a small pig farm in the country’s North West province where 32 of 36 pigs died. Since this was outside of South Africa’s control zone for the disease, contact with infected wild pigs is suspected.
The National Pork Board today offered a statement of support to the National Pork Producers Council as it took the extremely rare step to cancel the 2019 World Pork Expo scheduled June 5-7, 2019, in Des Moines.
“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.”
The Pork Checkoff has been helping to inform producers’ response to African swine fever since it broke in China in August 2018. The fundamental purposes of the Checkoff are swine research, producer education and pork promotion. To that end, the organization has provided comprehensive information through a dedicated foreign animal disease web page located at pork.org/fad.
Key materials on the page that every pig farmer need to know center on protecting their herd through following biosecurity principles and ensuring every pig farm has a defined Premises Identification Number, or PIN, which are fundamental to the U.S. pork industry’s Secure Pork Supply plan. Details on the Secure Pork Supply plan are at securepork.org.
“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S. But any risk needs to be managed – and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board,” Rommereim said. “This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”
Rommereim encourages all U.S. pig farmers to review the foreign animal disease preparation checklist and biosecurity steps to take, among other materials located on pork.org/fad.
Outside of its origins on the African continent, African swine fever (ASF) continues its relentless march through parts of Asia and Europe, causing increasing disruption to the world’s pork production. Much of the world’s attention has been on China due to its No. 1 position in global pork production. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) now reports that nearly all of China’s provincial level administrative units (see heat map) have reported one or more ASF breaks, which means all but the far west (and Hong Kong and Macau) of China now has some level of ASF exposure.
Official reports peg China’s losses to culling and mortality at about one million pigs since the outbreak was reported last August. However, unofficial reports put that number as much as 10 times that amount. According to economist Steve Meyer with Kerns and Associates, China’s breeding herd is down 19 percent from one year ago and total market hogs are down 16 percent from a year ago. This has greatly hindered China’s ability to feed its population pork, which it typically desires. This could be a driver behind the recent largest purchase of U.S. pork by China in two years despite the self-imposed tariffs.
Non-governmental reports from U.S. pork industry visitors cite China’s ASF as “endemic,” meaning fleeting hope of containment or eradication anytime in the near future. This is further evidenced by the recent confirmation of the ASF virus in neighboring Vietnam, where it has been confirmed in 17 provinces in the northern part of the country. Other pig-raising countries nearby with growing levels of concern include Thailand, whose pork industry is worth $3.3 billion a year and is considered the region’s most advanced. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Thai pork is raised on large farms, which should improve biosecurity. However, neighboring countries are typically less sophisticated in their pig-rearing abilities.