U.S. Hog Farmers See A Real Threat As Deadly Pig Virus Races Through China, Europe


By Amy Mayer, High Plains Public Radio

Feb 5, 2019


In January 2018, a handful of farmers at a major Iowa pork industry gathering attended a session on the threat of foreign animal diseases. A year later, several dozen people showed up, spurred by the march of African swine fever across China.


“This risk of African swine fever is real,” veterinarian Craig Rowles told the crowd at the Iowa Pork Congress. “And as producers, we need to be very cognizant of that.”


African swine fever also has a hold in Russia and eastern Europe, and turned up in wild pigs in Belgium. China’s agricultural ministry says it has culled 900,000 pigs from the pork production system because of the disease, though many observers suspect that may be a low estimate. Belgium has kept the disease out of domestic pigs so far, but responses in Europe have ranged from a Polish proposal to wipe out its wild hog population (which prompted protests) to a Danish plan to build a fence that would keep the feral animals from crossing in from Germany.


All of that has U.S. pork producers and emergency managers preparing for a possible outbreak, which could have potentially disastrous effects on the pork industry as well as rural and state economies that depend on it. A widespread outbreak likely would bankrupt some farms, though it would also flood the marketplace with cheap pork for U.S. consumers. The diseases only infects swine so is not a public health or food safety concern.


What happens during an outbreak ...


How would it get here? ...


more including links, chart, audio [4:37 min.]