The National Pork Producers Council has said it expects the restrictions placed on US pork exports by certain nations due to concerns about the H1N1 virus to be temporary.
“The restrictions should be short lived because US and international authorities have made it clear that the H1N1 virus is transmitted through human contact and that pork is 100% safe to consume,” said NPPC Vice President and International Trade Counsel Nick Giordano. “NPPC has been in constant contact with US trade officials, and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk have been busy working the phones with our trading partners. It is imperative that our trade officials stop the export bleeding now.”
'Swine Flu' unjustified
The World Health Organization (WHO) have now named the virus “Influenza A,” and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said the H1N1 influenza should never have been named “swine” flu and there is no justification for the imposition of trade measures on the importation of pigs or their products. The US Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Homeland Security all confirm there are no food safety issues with the virus and that it is not in the US hog herd.
Despite those facts, Ukraine, St. Lucia, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Honduras and Croatia have banned US pork imports. Russia and China, which are significant markets for US pork exports, and Kazakhstan have banned US pork from certain states.
“The US pork industry maintains the capacity to serve the Chinese and Russian markets from non-restricted states,” Giordano said. “The other nations account for only a very small percentage of US pork exports.”
Pork export restrictions
While the current export restrictions are manageable, Giordano pointed out, it will be difficult to withstand the loss of further markets. The US pork industry already has lost money for 19 straight months as a result of high input costs, with producers losing an average of $20 per hog marketed.
Pork exports in 2008 accounted for more than 20% of total US pork production, contributed approximately $48 per hog harvested and supported more than 65,000 US jobs. The creation of new export opportunities and the maintenance of existing export markets are critical to the sustainability of the US pork industry.
• World Health Organization (WHO)
• World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)