U.S. Meat Export Federation delegates recently returned from the seventh edition of the United States-China Swine Industry Symposium with a fresh international perspective on animal disease outbreaks, including African swine fever in China and Europe. More than 150 U.S., Chinese and European pork industry representatives recently gathered in Beijing for the annual symposium, co-organized by the USMEF, the U.S. Grains Council and the U.S. Soybean Export Council along with the China Animal Agriculture Association, the China Meat Association and the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import/Export of Native Produce and Agricultural Products.
U.S. speakers included Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., who serves on the USMEF executive committee and chairs the USMEF Pork and Allied Industries Committee. Spronk explained the biosecurity measures used at Spronk Brothers III, the farrow-to-finish operation in which he is the managing partner.
“I shared with the audience the experience we have in the United States, starting with pseudorabies back in the 1980s, through PRRS and PEDV, and how our basic on-farm biosecurity has changed and evolved,” Spronk says. “Whether it’s due to trucks moving or personnel moving, we need effective processes and procedures that are utilized to stop disease.”
One example he cited is Spronk Brothers’ use of separate wash bays for trailers hauling sows, feeder pigs and butcher hogs.
“Through overarching design and sound on-farm practices, you can sometimes prevent the spread of disease,” Spronk says. “There was a movement in China, even before ASF, to shift production from backyards to modern swine facilities. Because of ASF, I think there is more of an effort in China to reduce movement of live pigs and place hogs in slaughterhouses within provinces. There’s been some imbalance between where pigs are raised and where they are slaughtered, and they’re attempting to correct that.”
USMEF economist Erin Borror gave a presentation on the global trade impact of ASF. She noted that the World Organization for Animal Health maintains clear guidelines for trade in meat products from disease-affected countries, but these guidelines are not always adopted by trading partners. For example, some importing countries follow OIE guidance by suspending imports only from regions affected by ASF, provided that the exporting country has an effective regionalization plan in place that is recognized by the importing country. But in other cases, importing countries ban pork from an entire nation upon confirmation of ASF.
Borror referenced ASF’s impact on Poland’s pork exports as well as lessons from other animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease in South America and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States. Animal disease will continue to impact production, trade and consumption, and OIE guidelines are meant to help minimize losses by promoting animal health and science-based trade.
Other speakers included Chinese pork producers, who detailed the biosecurity protocols of their farms, and industry experts who explained the Chinese government’s efforts to contain and eradicate ASF. They noted that the disease is likely to have long-term repercussions for China’s pork industry.
Antonio Tavares, a pork producer from Portugal, recounted how ASF was combatted on the Iberian Peninsula, including on his own farm, from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s.
“It was really interesting to hear about his firsthand experience with ASF and to gather valuable information from one of the few areas of the world that has eliminated the disease,” Spronk says. “From Europe to China to North America, it’s very important that we share information when it comes to something as devastating to the industry as ASF.”
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, noted that as a well-established annual event, the symposium was an outstanding venue for sharing information on ASF, which was first reported in China in August 2018.
“The Swine Industry Symposium has grown into a very useful platform for discussing issues of common interest to the world’s largest swine industries,” Haggard says. “Animal disease control, with a specific focus on ASF, was a natural topic for this year’s symposium.”
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