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Hog producers worried about African Swine Fever

DES MOINES — Pork producers in Iowa and across the country are growing increasingly concerned about the threat of African Swine Fever (ASF). Curtis Meier runs a 160 sow farrow-to-finish operation in southwest Iowa near Clarinda.

“It would be disastrous if we get it here in the U.S.,” Meier says. ASF has been spreading in China in recent months and products with the virus have been detected in Australia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Here in Iowa, Meier says producers have always emphasized biosecurity on their farm, but there are some things they just can’t control. “You know, it’s really scary the amount of feed ingredients we get from China,” Meyer says. “And it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the ingredients, it can be on the confounded containers that they use to haul the stuff over here.”

Livestock economist Steve Meyer says African Swine Fever could have a big impact on hog prices in coming months. If ASF continues to spread in China, it could be positive for U.S. pork producers. “If the losses in China get completely out of hand and they have to go to the world market to just feed their people – and if we can get our tariff situation settled enough that we can participate in that – that would be a real positive,” Meyer says.

But if AFS were to enter the U.S., Meyer says, it would obviously be devastating. “If it comes here, we’re blocked from exports immediately, and we have 23 percent more pork and we’ve got to work through all that…so, even if we contain it quickly and it doesn’t kill many pigs, we can’t export until we prove it’s contained,” Meyer said. But Meyer also thinks the U.S. is much better prepared to deal with an ASF outbreak, which could limit any potential long-term damage to markets.

Curtis Meier and Steve Meyer both spoke with Brownfield Ag News during the recent annual meeting of the Iowa Pork Producers Association in Des Moines.


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