Wallaces Farmer

Disease actively influencing pork markets around the world, particularly China and Germany.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

March 17, 2021

4 Min Read
Pig Farm (1).jpg

As African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread and reemerge in countries overseas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced March 16 that they have developed a protocol to help ensure bilateral trade will continue if ASF is detected in feral swine in either country, while still absent from domestic swine.

The protocol intends to protect swine populations in both countries during an outbreak of ASF in feral swine while minimizing impacts on the trade of live swine, swine products, and other swine commodities. Upon an ASF feral swine detection, all trade between both countries would initially stop. Then, according to the protocol, trade would resume in three, progressive phases with increasingly reduced restrictions on live swine, swine germplasm, and untreated swine commodities.

“Continuing trade with Canada in the event of a feral African swine fever detection is important to our stakeholders, and this trade protocol provides the necessary guidance to minimize the impact to the swine industry,” said USDA Chief Veterinarian Dr. Burke Healey. “This collaborative effort uses a science-based approach to ensure trade between both countries resumes as quickly as possible.”

How quickly the U.S. and Canada establish initial control areas, initiate surveillance/case findings and removal in feral swine, and start surveillance in captive swine, will determine when they enter phase two of the protocol. During the third and final phase, trade restrictions are reduced to the boundaries of the established control area.

APHIS and CFIA are continuing to work with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that both countries have the processes and procedures in place to fully implement the protocol.

USDA continues to work with a wide range of partners including the swine industry, U.S producers, other government agencies and neighboring countries to keep ASF out of North America. At the same time, it has response plans in place and incident management teams ready to deploy in case ASF does reach the United States.

ASF actively influencing markets

Meanwhile, Rabobank said this week that ASF is actively influencing pork markets around the world, adding that the implications of the disease for world pork trade are a major swing factor in global pork markets.

While China had previously reported it had a handle on the disease, its spread over winter highlights the challenges of managing the disease, Rabobank noted.  

“ASF is creating significant uncertainty in key areas, such as China’s herd numbers and the outlook for 2021, especially for the sow population, but also on China’s pork production and pork prices,” explained Justin Sherrard, global strategist of animal protein for Rabobank.

A recent Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service provided some insight into some of the latest developments. According to the report, media reports in late January noted that unapproved ASF vaccines may have contributed to the development of new ASF strains in China. But, ASF strains unrelated to the unauthorized vaccine strains have also emerged. These strains, while less deadly, are harder to detect and effectively increase the exposure of ASF in China’s hog herd, USDA relayed.

Also concerning was news in February from Hong Kong, the largest export market for live hogs from China, that the first case of ASF in over a year and a half had been discovered.

While Rabobank believes China’s pig supply will generally increase in 2021, prices are expected to fluctuate due to the uncertainties of disease development, restocking interests, feed costs, and import policies. 

“Our view is that average hog prices in 2021 will be lower than in 2020 and subject to strong ups and downs during the year,” said Sherrard.

While China’s booming import demand for pork and other species was a major demand driver in global animal protein markets in 2020, Rabobank anticipates China’s pork imports will decline in 2021.

“At the same time, we see all exporting countries looking to maintain trade with China. Price will be one major factor that determines which countries will maintain high pork trade flows to China in 2021, along with availability and geopolitical considerations,” said Sherrard.

In another region, Rabobank said the ongoing pressure from ASF’s spread in Germany is also significant. Progress has been made in containing the disease, but more work is needed. Additionally, the situation in Germany has implications for other parts of Europe.

“After the ASF outbreak in Germany was confirmed in September 2020, ten countries imposed import bans on German pork, including China, Japan, and Vietnam, leaving about an extra 70,000 metric tons of pork on the EU market each month,” Sherrard explained.

Although several countries recently relaxed import bans on German pork, Rabobank said the import ban by China will likely remain in place for 1H 2021 at a minimum, as the situation is still evolving.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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