African Swine Fever Threat Cancels Pork Expo

Apr 12, 2019  | 2 min  | Ep4434

U.S. hog farmers are among those who have watched as import duties cut into their top export markets. They would like to sell more to China, an area hard hit by African swine fever. Currently, A-S-F is in 20 provinces and is expected to reduce the size of the herd by 134 million head which is equivalent in size to the entire current U.S. hog herd.

As producers wait for a trade deal, the disease has caused more international fallout.

Peter Tubbs reports. ---

Citing “An abundance of caution”, the National Pork Producer’s Council this week cancelled the 2019 World Pork Expo, which had been scheduled for the Iowa State Fairgrounds in June.

The Expo attracts 20,000 visitors each year from around the globe, some of whom come from regions with herds infected with African swine fever. 

African swine fever does not affect humans, and requires the destruction of both live hog herds and meat harvested from the infected farm. There is no known treatment for ASF. The industry currently lacks a vaccine but biosecurity measures are holding the disease at bay.

China reported the first recent case of ASF in 2018, and has documented over 120 outbreaks of the disease. Officially over a million hogs have been culled, but experts believe that number is propaganda and grossly underestimated. 

Preventing a jump of the virus across the Pacific is a priority for the U.S. pork industry.

Jim Monroe, Senior Communications Director, National Pork Producers Council: “An outbreak of African Swine Fever in the United States would be devastating to our farmers, they are already facing challenges on the trade front due to trade disputes with Mexico and China, two of our largest export markets, and if we contracted African Swine Fever here, it would immediately close our export markets.”

According to USDA data, China, Mexico and Japan cut pork imports during the last 10 months of 2018 by over 200 million pounds – a drop of seven percent from 2017s sales.   

Reports are beginning to surface that Chinese consumers are losing confidence in all pork regardless of where it originates. Even if consumers maintain demand for pork as the local supply declines, tariffs are expected to continue to limit imports from American producers. 

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.

Grinnell Mutual Insurance