ASF China: Pork supplies expected to shrink; case in Sichuan

15-03-2019 | | |
Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Bit by bit more background info is becoming available about the vastness of the African Swine Fever (ASF) situation in China. It is clear that the situation is much worse than officially is reported – production may be down by 30%.

The last estimate was given by Brett Stuart, president of Global AgriTrends, in a presentation given at the annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), held in Orlando FL, United States, 9-12 March. His presentation was covered by the US business publication National Hog Farmer.

The world’s largest hog herd

In that article, Mr Stuart was quoted to say, “You have the world’s worst hog disease in the world’s largest hog herd – it’s high density, it’s not standardised and it all shares infrastructure, whether it be trucks, feed mills or slaughter plants – and you have a government that is completely lacking in transparency that is trying to cover it up. So, there’s not a lot of reporting on it.” He also described the spread of the virus to be vast and deep, “way, way, way worse than we are hearing.”

According to the report, Mr Stuart referred to a large commercial pig company which had lost 95% of its sows, and he estimated that production in China would be down 30% once all liquidation stops. In addition, some packers would be freezing carcasses in anticipation of a future shortage, he said.

Pig owners suffering in silence

Mr Stuart’s remarks are in accordance with a very recent and intriguing personal article published in the US title Successful Farming by executive editor Betsy Freese. She travelled to China recently as part of a study tour by the Iowa Farm Bureau, including visits to the US embassy in Beijing, a US feed ingredient company and the China Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA).

While her reporting of the 3rd visit echoes the official line of communication, in her summary of the first 2 visits a different picture emerges. Bottom line is Ms Freese’s description that “millions of Chinese people own pigs and suffer in silence.” All in all, the ASF development will help the government to promote the building of large-scale farms, she noted.

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New case of ASF in Sichuan province

Officially, this week only 1 new case of African Swine Fever (ASF) was reported from China. On March 10, the virus was found in a transport load of 150 pigs in a toll station in Sichuan province.

The Chinese authorities reported a truck with pigs that was stopped at a highway checkpoint for animal health supervision in the south of Linshui County. In total the truck carried 150 animals of which 9 had died, according to the report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

In total, this outbreak is the 6th reported case in Sichuan province and the 1st that was reported in 2019 from this province. In March, 2 cases have been reported and in the whole of 2019, 14 cases were reported to the OIE.

Presentation on the ASF situation worldwide

In the meantime, during the biannual trade show VIV Asia, held in Bangkok, Thailand, 13-15 March, the ASF situation in Asia took main stage as well. At a very well-attended side congress, organised by Thai agricultural organisations, the virus was discussed by various speakers, including Pig Progress editor Vincent ter Beek, giving an update of the situation worldwide. A PDF version of his entire presentation can be viewed here.

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Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world