April 7, 2020


ASF outbreak could cost US swine sector US$50 billion in 10 years



A new study replicates the impact of the loss of pork export markets and found that an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak could cost the US swine industry as much as US$50 billion over 10 years.


Export sales of US pork reached an all-time high in 2019 of US$6.95 billion metric tons (5.89 billion pounds), with exports accounting for 26.9% of the market. The export market returns an average US$53.51 per head back to US pork producers.


"Pork production in the US exceeds domestic consumption by 25% to 30%, so it's important to have export markets open as they are imperative to the vitality of the American pig farmer," says Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University agricultural economist and one of the authors of the study.


Conducted by Iowa State University agricultural economists, the study results indicate the costs associated with an ASF outbreak in the US are significant and require risk mitigation and safeguards to protect against importing the disease.


"Movement data will be needed for people, pigs, vehicles, equipment and feed for each site within your operation," says Howard Hill, DVM, PhD. "The data will need to be shared quickly with state and federal animal health officials, your veterinarian, as well as neighbouring producers to help each other contain the disease."


Having immediate access to electronic data for all types of pig movement is a crucial step to stopping the spread of ASF. This information will be required to prove negative status of farms, so the industry can maintain business continuity.


"Keep in mind that at any point in time, we have more than one million pigs on the road being transported in the United States. We need a method to quickly identify infected pigs and the pigs that have been in contact with infected pigs, so they can be euthanised. This would allow the industry to regain export markets before downsizing occurs, thus saving billions in losses," says Hill.


Currently, the rate of pork production is increasing due to expansion of the breeding herd. USDA's long-term forecast for pork is a 1.5% increase per year. However, production is trending higher than the forecast, up 3% and breeding inventory is up 2%.


The study was funded by Iowa State University and BarnTools, a digital biosecurity platform company; and is an update to "Economy Wide Impacts of a Foreign Animal Disease in the United States" published in 2011 and funded by the National Pork Board.