China’s gateway city of Hong Kong is now officially positive for the African Swine Fever Virus. A news release from the National Pork Board says that means the country is nearly 100 percent covered by ASF. The toll ASF is taking on China’s hog herd is now reaching “epic proportions.” Some industry experts say the total loss could approach over 200 million animals. What makes those numbers even worse is the country’s farmers can’t seem to repopulate their herds effectively and keep the new animals from contracting the disease. That’s in spite of the fact that the farmers have depopulated their previous herds, cleaned and disinfected their facilities, and left them idle for months. Animals are still getting sick.
This has led to pork shortages across the country, with some production facilities switching to other proteins like chicken and seafood to make ends meet. Last month, China’s Ministry of Agriculture released a 100-day action plan to manage the transition to the ASF self-testing system during the slaughter process and implementing a new system of stationing veterinarians at pig slaughterhouses.
Canada announced it has reached a zoning arrangement with the U.S. that would allow the countries to continue trading hogs and pork products across the border with the U.S. even if African Swine Fever is detected in either country. Politico says trade would continue in “disease-free zones” that would be designated to help contain an outbreak, following the World Organization’s Animal Health guidelines. Pork is a multi-billion dollar industry in both countries.
Consequently, regulators from both nations have been working for weeks on plans to manage and mitigate an outbreak should the deadly pig disease make it up to North America. African Swine Fever is decimating hog herds in China, as well as making its way into European countries. It’s a trend that’s already affected global commodity markets and is expected to influence soy exports to China for years.