May 20, 2023


ASF outbreak in US would cost US$79.5 billion



An Iowa State University research has shown that an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the US would result in a US$79.5 billion impact on the country's pork and beef sectors, Farm Journal reported.


The analysis, led by economist Dermot Hayes from Iowa State University, indicates that the impact would be even more severe considering the current high input costs.


An ASF outbreak would also direct affecting approximately 60,000 workers who could face job losses. Additionally, pork prices would plummet by 50% to 60%, remaining low for a prolonged period of three years before showing signs of recovery.


Hayes said that with nearly 30% of US pork exported, any disruption in the market would have an immediate spillover effect on the domestic market, resulting in an inundation of inexpensive products. Some meat cuts, known as variety meats, would be discarded as they were originally intended for export to China but would no longer be viable under these circumstances.


Hayes explains that during the initial years, industry losses would primarily stem from reduced prices, potentially dropping by more than 50% for live hogs. If the ASF outbreak couldn't be contained, revenue losses would persist, leading to a downsizing of the industry. This downsizing would involve fewer producers, integrated operations, and finishers, potentially necessitating a reduction of approximately 25% in the net exports currently being conducted.


The financial devastation resulting from an ASF outbreak would extend for the first couple of years, and if the US fails to control the disease within the subsequent eight to ten years, it would require a significant downsizing of the industry. The threat of ASF has prompted the National Pork Board and producers nationwide to intensify their efforts to prepare, respond, and recover from the potential impact of a foreign animal disease.


Dr Joel Nerem, chief veterinary officer at Pipestone, said that there is an undeniable impact that ASF or any foreign animal disease would have on the US pork industry.


He urges all producers to be prepared and ready to respond swiftly, not just for their individual interests but also for the national interest.


Nerem advises producers to create a Secure Pork Supply plan with enhanced biosecurity measures for every pig-rearing location and to maintain 30 days' worth of movement data that can be readily shared with state animal health officials or other relevant entities in the event of an incursion of a foreign animal disease.


Dr Patrick Webb, assistant chief veterinarian with the National Pork Board, encourages the use of AgView, a free database and dashboard technology that allows producers to securely share location and movement data with state animal health officials. This enables officials to promptly determine the spread of diseases.


Nerem said that AgView is a valuable resource for storing and standardising movement data, which facilitates effective information exchange with state and local health authorities.


He said that that traceability is an essential requirement for the US pork industry, stating that achieving real-time and accurate traceability should be the goal for the future.


-      Farm Journal

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