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· Swine fever hits farmers on advent of Year of the Pig
· More piggies go to the market in China amid swine fever outbreak, leading to cheaper pork
Swine fever hits farmers on advent of Year of the Pig
Business Report (S.Africa)
6 February 2019
INTERNATIONAL – For farmers Zhang Shiping and Bai Fuqin in north-east China, there is little to celebrate this Lunar New Year.
Since African swine fever struck a farm in nearby Shenyang city last August, the couple has racked up about 300 000 yuan (R595 085) in debt, 10 times what they make in a good year raising pigs.
The incurable disease has since travelled thousands of kilometres, striking mainly small farms in the world’s biggest pork-producing country and triggering unprecedented upheaval in China’s $1 trillion (R13.38trln) hog sector.
Though Zhang’s farm was not infected, measures to halt its spread have effectively killed his family’s livelihood.
Beijing banned the transport of live pigs from infected provinces in September, part of its “protracted war” on a disease that typically takes years to eradicate.
The restrictions crippled trade, particularly in north-east Liaoning province, which produces about a third more pigs than it consumes and relies heavily on exporting.
Prices in the province dropped below 4 yuan per kilogram this month – the lowest price in a decade – just weeks away from the Lunar New Year holiday, normally a time of peak pork demand.
Zhang and Bai got rid of about 30 pigs this month, losing about 800 yuan on each, after feeding them months after they should have been slaughtered while waiting for prices to pick up.
They still have almost 50 left, now so overweight and fatty that no processors want them.
“We can barely survive,” Bai said during an interview at her modest farmhouse in Changtu county, a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Shenyang, capital of Liaoning.
Bai and three other farmers in Changtu said they would not continue raising pigs, even though they have few other options in the region, one of China’s slowest-growing.
Tens of thousands like them are expected to abandon pig farming after months of weak prices and restrictions on moving pigs to market. That will reduce production in the country by one-fifth this year, according to some estimates, and boost prices and demand for cheaper imports.
“I have experienced all kinds of ups and downs in the pig industry. But nothing has been as hard and bitter as this year,” said Sun Hongbo, another Changtu farmer.
He will quit pig farming for good, he added, seeking manual work after the holiday.
Small farmers producing fewer than 500 pigs for slaughter each year account for about 40 percent of China’s output, or around 280 million pigs a year, according to 2016 figures from consultants at Rabobank.
But the African swine fever epidemic looks set to accelerate change in an industry already shifting towards more industrialised farms, particularly in the north...
More piggies go to the market in China amid swine fever outbreak, leading to cheaper pork
Prices of wholesale pork down 15 per cent from January 2018
Farmers rush herds to market amid disease containment campaign
Chad Bray, South China Morning Post
07 February, 2019
Efforts to contain an outbreak of African swine fever have rocked the Chinese pork industry, leading to an unexpected drop in prices during the Chinese New Year holiday season.
While pork lovers in the mainland may be celebrating lower prices during this week’s festivities, the party isn’t expected to last in the world’s largest pork-producing country.
With so many pigs having either been destroyed or taken to market early to avoid being swept up in containment efforts, a shortage of the Chinese staple is expected in the second half of the year, experts say.
As supplies drop off, imports of pork products can be expected to increase. The US, one of the world’s top pork exporters, could benefit, with or without a US-China trade agreement, as its farmers fill the drop in supply or simply get a boost through a rise in global prices.
The outbreak, first reported in early August, is severe, and could take years to get under control, experts say.
To try to contain the disease, Beijing has ordered more than 950,000 pigs be destroyed. That is a relatively small amount of the total number of pigs. What has depressed prices, experts say, is that farmers rushed their herds to market early. That led to a glut on the market, despite the extra demand during the holiday season.
The average wholesale price of pork in the last week of January was down 15.3 per cent from the same period in 2018, according to the latest government figures.
“[Pork] production expansion and replenishment are expected to markedly slow due to great concerns over biosecurity measures,” Rabobank senior analyst Chenjun Pan said. “While pork supply is believed to be sufficient in [the first quarter], the big supply issue will arise later in the year, with pork imports expected to increase substantially due to local supply shortages.”
In a research report, Pan said that pork production in China could drop by as much as 20 per cent in 2019. Meanwhile, the sow herd has declined by about 15 per cent across the country, she said. About 30 per cent of medium-sized farms in the north and northeast have liquidated sows due to financial stress as prices have dropped, she estimated.
African swine fever, which initially was documented in Kenya in 1921, has spread in recent years from Eastern Europe to Russia, and now, to China. Animals infected with the virus often exhibit a high fever, loss of appetite and a reddening of the skin, particularly around the ears and snout.
The disease also can live in cured meats for more than four months and in frozen meat for years, allowing its spread to other parts of the globe, according to the Centre for Food Security & Public Health at Iowa State University...
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