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African Swine Fever Persists in Parts of China

Reuters writer Dominique Patton reported on Friday that, “Large numbers of pigs are dying from African swine fever in China’s top hog-producing province, say farmers and analysts, raising concerns it could spread further across the south and slow China’s pork production recovery.

“The deadly African swine fever virus wiped out around half of China’s huge pig herd during 2018 and 2019 but the country rapidly rebuilt much of the lost stock last year.

But there have been fresh outbreaks in northern China this year, and there are more strains of the virus circulating.

The Reuters article noted that, “Now, southwestern Sichuan province, which produced 48.5 million hogs for slaughter last year, about 9% of the country’s total, is also seeing a resurgence of the virus.”

Last week’s article added that, “The latest outbreaks have created additional supply as farmers panic and send pigs to slaughter. Sichuan’s hog price, usually higher than most regions because of its large population and high consumption levels, has fallen below the national average to 15.6 yuan ($2.40) per kg this week.”

And a report late last month from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in Beijing (“China: Pork Price Decline Impacts Production“) stated that, “Following the resurgence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China’s hog herd in late 2020, sources shared that producers exhibited greater concern about the spread of the disease. Reportedly, hog producers rushed to sell, causing prices to decline. From January 2021 to the end of June 2021 live hog prices fell by nearly 65 percent due to increased slaughter, low consumer demand, and an abundance of pork availability in the market. As the price for pork declined, so did piglet prices.

“China: Pork Price Decline Impacts Production,” USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service. Report Number: CH2021-0066 (June 23, 2021).

“Sources indicate that breeding farms have responded by culling less productive breeding sows which is affecting piglet production. These trends will decrease the breeding sow population, especially amongst small- and medium-sized producers, while supporting large producers with high efficiency sows. Further, feed prices in China remain relatively high even though China’s industry is considering varying feed ingredient rations. Finally, restocking commercial hog farms with piglets is being delayed according to industry sources and is expected to result in lower pork production in the second half of 2021.

FAS China anticipates that demand for imported pork in the second half of 2021 and early 2022 is expected to remain robust.

Also last week, Reuters News reported that, “China will buy 13,000 tonnes of frozen pork for its state reserves on July 14, a notice posted by the China Merchandise Reserve Management Center showed on Friday.

“China’s state planner said late last month that the central and local governments would start purchasing pork for state reserves for the first time since 2019 after a sharp drop in hog prices from January to early June.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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