China Pork Production

In this May 8, 2019, photo, pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm in Panggezhuang village in northern China's Hebei province. Chinese agriculture officials are launching a nationwide initiative to boost pork production following a price spike blamed on shortages caused by an outbreak of African swine fever.

Illinois and Iowa pork producers aren't yet getting a boost from China's need for more pork.

China is trying to boost pork production following a price spike blamed on an outbreak of African swine fever.

“We are not realizing that yet,” DeAnne Bloomberg, director of issue management with the Illinois Farm Bureau, said Thursday. “Remember, we’ve got those China tariffs still.”

Bloomberg said she was hearing that as much as 50% of China’s swine herd had been eliminated.

China raises about half the world’s pigs, and stable pork production is of great importance to the country's steady national economic performance, Yu Kangzhen, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said in an Associated Press story.

Pork production fell as African swine fever ravaged pig farms in China beginning in April. While the disease doesn’t affect humans, it spreads among pigs quickly.

It is Bloomberg’s understanding that the latest round of tariffs will apply to some U.S. goods, including anti-cancer drugs as well as animal feeding ingredients, among them whey.

“They are trying to ramp back up production,” Bloomberg said. “So as a result of that in this last round of tariffs, they actually have said, 'We need that whey coming from you guys' because it’s a feeding ingredient that they use.”

The Associated Press reported that pork prices surged 46.7% in August from a year earlier, contributing 1.08 percentage points to a 2.8% rise in the consumer price index, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics this week.

The soaring price has hit Chinese consumers hard as pork, essential in most Chinese households, accounts for more than 60% of meat consumption.

Though no boost has happened yet for U.S. pork producers, if a trade deal happens, it would help, Bloomberg said.

“If the China trade deal could get resolved,” she said, “that would be huge to American pork producers.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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