US farmers miss out on China’s pork market as swine fever culls pig population

World Today

US farmers miss out on China's pork market as swine fever culls pig population

African Swine Fever continues to wreak havoc in China and across large parts of Asia. Although not a threat to human health, it is highly contagious and deadly for pigs.

China’s pig population has been drastically culled- leading to a shortage of pork.

That’s led to a rise in global pork prices but American farmers are largely missing out. CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

U.S. pork production is at an all-time high.

But farmers said they are missing out on the huge market potential of China.

African Swine Fever has decimated at least 40% of China’s pig population…. leading to a chronic pork shortage there.

Although China lifted trade tariffs on U.S. pork imports in September. so far, U.S. producers remain far behind the likes of Germany and Spain in supplying China’s pork.

“There has been frustration. For about two years as we’ve seen these trade wars go on. We’ve been behind the curve with Japan when we withdrew from TPP. And this African Swine Fever has been bubbling in China and we knew there was opportunities there. And we see competitors get a leg up on the shelf space in China if you will,” said Brian Duncan, Vice President of the Illinois Farm Bureau,

A study by the U.S. National Pork Producers Council said the China pork market could be worth $24.5 billion dollars within ten years if U.S. producers gain unrestricted access.

Pat Bane has been raising pigs on his farm for thirty-five years. The uncertainty over China-U.S. trade could soon be resolved, with talks continuing over a ‘phase one deal’.

And that, Bane said, would be welcome news for the industry.

“We are at a very high level of production in the United States, so we’ve got the pork there. If we get it, we would find a place to market this pork and if we don’t then we are looking at restriction in the industry and a decrease in prices.”

“U.S. pork farmers have taken some strain in recent years, weighed down by the various trade disputes. But the industry as a whole has fared better than most agricultural sectors. Thanks in part to the success in finding replacement markets.”

Although pork exports fell by almost 4% during the trade dispute, an increase in exports to countries including Colombia, South Korea and Vietnam helped offset those losses.

But those markets are dwarfed by demand in China…

“I don’t even know what victory in this trade war looks like now. What has been accomplished with this. What has been gained, what if there was a more productive way to do it. The rest of the world continues to move ahead without us,” said Brian Duncan.

African swine fever in China and other parts of Asia has seen the worldwide price of pork escalate. Global pork suppliers are preparing to cash in but so far, it would appear that American pork farmers are largely on the sidelines.

Anna Ashton explains where US-China trade talks stand after a recent phone call

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Anna Ashton, senior director of Governmental Affairs, U.S.-China Business Council, about the status of U.S.-China trade talks.