Clements: More than 40 outbreaks of African swine fever in China are prompting fears the disease may spread across the globe. ASF is a highly contagious viral disease affecting pigs that posts a nearly 100 percent mortality rate in infected animals. American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Michael Nepveux says the disease has reached large-scale pork production operations in China.
Nepveux: For the most part, ASF had been popping up in smallholder or even backyard-style farms. About three weeks ago, you had an outbreak on a facility with over 20,000 pigs. Usually those larger operations are owned by larger companies and they tend to have much better biosecurity measures in place. This is very concerning because we don’t know how far it could spread into larger facilities like that.
Clements: Nepveux says the disease is spreading fast across China, and many believe China is underreporting outbreak numbers.
Nepveux: We still don’t fully know how bad it is in China. But, its still too early to say exactly how bad it will be. Another concern is some of the provinces that are seeing ASF are on the bordering provinces that border a country like Vietnam, which is one the largest producers of pork in the world as well.
Clements: He says this is a good time for producers to review their on-farm biosecurity plan with a veterinarian and take other steps to prepare and protect their operations.
Nepveux: The Pork Board website has a foreign animal disease checklist about what producers can be going through and making sure that their farm is prepared for anything to happen. Additionally, at this point USDA is having war gaming exercises to essentially practice how they would respond to any kind of outbreak occurring in the U.S. as well. So, the industry, the government and producers are all remaining vigilant on how to prevent this spread to the United States.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.
Newsline will not be published on Thursday, November 22 due to Thanksgiving. Look for AFBF’s next Newsline podcast on Tuesday, November 27.