Lindsay Mitchell

May 30, 2019  |  Today's News |  Livestock |  Exports

Prevention of African swine fever (ASF) in North America is critical, but so is preparation for a response and recovery if the disease does make it here. That was the precaution offered by Dr. Dave Pyburn, senior vice president for science and technology for the National Pork Board, who presented “African Swine Fever and Swine Business Continuity Planning” as part of a panel discussion on ASF at Friday’s closing business session of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting in Kansas City.

“As I watch this virus move across many countries, it concerns me with what the future holds,” Pyburn told USMEF members. “For the pork industry, this is the most devastating disease that we could get. With this strain of ASF, which is the same across Russia, across the Baltics, across Eastern and Western Europe – and now in Asia – it’s all the same. From what I’m hearing from people on the ground, when you look at domestic animals, within about 10 days of an individual animal infection that animal is dead. When you start looking at large units that get infected, about 80 percent of hogs in that unit are going to die from the virus.”

USMEF Economist Erin Borror shed light on the potential effects of ASF on the global pork market, as well as on trade of other proteins.

“ASF-driven pork shortages, especially in China, will drive global pork trade to record levels in 2019-2020 and over the near term,” she said.

Simply put, there is not enough global meat to fill China’s needs while also meeting demand in the rest of the world.

“Thus prices for hogs and pork are trending higher and this will continue in an effort to ration supplies – and send the signal to producers to expand or rebuild where possible,” said Borror. “The China pork shortage will support prices for other meats, including beef, and China’s imports of all meats will be record-large.”

Borror noted that the U.S. is the best-positioned nation to expand pork exports because of its production growth, but market access issues – including retaliatory duties imposed by China – continue to handicap U.S. exports.

Read a report of this panel and it's discussions here.