As the US pork industry gets ready to feed China’s hunger for pork while African Swine Fever continues to take its toll on the Chinese swine herd, China is doing all it can to restore its own swine industry, an Agence France Press story showed.
And, if all goes according to plan, the world’s pork producers, who now are knocking at China’s door with product to sell, may only have a window of a few years in which to make inroads into the country’s giant pork market. Within a few years, they may have recovered enough production, and modernized it to boot, that only small imports will be needed.
“China will free up as much land as possible to restore pork production to pre-swine fever levels – including areas designated pig-free zones for environmental reasons,” the Agriculture Ministry there was quoted as saying in the AFP story.
It looks as though China is gearing itself toward a more western-style pork producing system, a market analyst said. They are working toward having more US-style production facilities and fewer mom-and-pop farms with a handful of pigs.
Such US-style facilities can be more bio-secure than small-time producers, and they are more efficient at producing food.
Chinese authorities outlined a three-year plan to boost its pig-breeding facilities in a bid to restore the country’s hog herds. To date more than a million hogs have been culled in efforts to stem the tide of ASF sweeping across the country.
THE SCRAMBLE IS ON
With ASF having such a devastating effect on the Chinese hog herd, it’s not surprising that Chinese officials felt pinched by the US’ sudden increase in tariffs that upset the balance of trade in an effort to secure a more equitable system of tariffs and data protections, another analyst said.
But ASF wasn’t President Trump’s fault, and like it or not, Chinese officials may have felt pressured to allow more US pork into the country at more reasonable tariffs.
Even without the reduced tariffs the Phase 1 trade agreement between the two countries, China imported 472,811 tonnes of US pork and pork products through November, a gain of 34% over the same period in 2018, according to USDA data.
But even that’s not enough. Local officials in China are being pressured to reduce the scope of areas protected from pig farms, the AFP story said. National regulations currently allow local governments to ban livestock production in certain areas to control pollution, protect nature preserves and keep water supplies clean.
The Agriculture Ministry was quoted as saying in early December that it planned to set up 120 model farms over the next three years, ramp up disease control measures and promote centralized professional disposal of diseased pig carcasses. The model farms were touted as ones that would use hog rearing techniques that could be replicated widely elsewhere in the country, AFP said.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trading in the Plains last week was at $123 to $127 per cwt, down $1 to up $2.50 from the previous week. Dressed-basis trading was at $198 to $199.50 per cwt, steady to up $0.50.
The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $0.90 per cwt at $213.59, while select was off $0.20 at $210.50. The choice/select spread narrowed to $3.09 from $3.79 with 83 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $144.30 per cwt, down $0.54. This compares with Monday’s Jan contract settlement of $141.90, up $0.50 and the Mar close of $135.17, down $4.50.