"Know where your feed is coming from": China culls upwards of 150 million pigs due to ASF

It’s no surprise to many that African swine fever (ASF) was one of the main topics discussed at the National Pork Management conference. The event, held at Nashville, TN., brought together a variety of industry stakeholders including producers, packers, chief financial officers, safety directors, and more.

As it just wrapped up, RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney caught up with ProFarmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer who was in attendance. He says his biggest take away was the overall impact ASF is having on China.

“It’s still ongoing, and it should not be any news, we were told that China had been very restrictive on information, that’s part of their culture,” he says. “Christine McCracken (executive director) of Rabobank says it’s affecting an estimated 150 to 200 million pigs in China with an expected 30 per cent loss in production by the end of the year of around 16 million metric tonnes.”

With that in mind, he says McCracken noted there’s going to be a 10 mmt supply gap in pork in China and it the country won’t be able to make that up all at once so consumers will have to turn to alternative proteins such as poultry, eggs, beef etc. Part of the supply can also be made up from imports, and he says China will look elsewhere such as the U.S. and Canada to get it’s pork supply met.

“I got the impression on that, that by the end of the year, (in my opinion) we’re going to have a continued price run up, but don’t get over aggressive in probably the price impact here,” he says. (story continues below)

Suggestions on how to curb ASF from coming to North America was to know where a producers feed is coming from by asking suppliers. He says feed isn’t the sole reason the virus is spreading like wildfire, but it could be part of the overall problem. Another suggestion was to not allow any international visitors from China to step foot on a farm as a precautionary measure.

He added one thing that was discussed but no solution was found, was when it came to the importation of vitamins from the country. There was no conclusion of that product being a potential driver of the spread of the virus; however, the price is expected to rise and then alternative suppliers would have to be found.

The pair also discussed how the trade deal with the U.S. and China is on the edge of completion. Wiesemeyer says he’s cautious as it’s estimated the two countries are finishing up the last “five per cent” of the deal and that there still could be trial balloons that both countries can present as a testing pattern.

“We’re in the arena right now,” he says. Main things President Trump and President Xi are finalizing would be tariffs and which ones, if not all of them as China would like to see, would be lifted along with U.S. Agriculture wanting to see a dollar amount of just how much American farm products will be purchased.

Wiesemeyer says even when the deal is finally made, President Trump has already indicated there will be an additional two weeks needed for official translation.

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