Tag Archives: ASF

South Korea has now joined eight other Asian countries in becoming positive for African swine fever (ASF). This comes after pigs were found positive for ASF near the nation’s border with North Korea, which has been positive for the virus since May.

Kim Hyun-soo, South Korea’s agricultural minister, said the country’s first case of the highly contagious disease was confirmed on Sept. 17 based on tests conducted on five pigs that died earlier this week on a farm in the city of Paju (see red dot on map). Another case is suspected in the nearby town of Yeoncheon.

The government has strengthened efforts to disinfect farms and transport vehicles and ordered a 48-hour standstill on all pig farms, slaughterhouses and feed mills across the country to prevent the spread of the disease. South Korea and has ordered about 6,000 farms that produce more than 11 million pigs.

South Korea does not import any pork products or live pigs from China due to that country’s animal disease status. It mainly imports from the United States and Germany, and pork imports account for about a third of the country’s total pork supplies.

There are no rearview mirrors on the motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, as the saying goes, implying the Vietnamese people never look backward, but stay focused on the future.

That can-do, progressive attitude has established Vietnam as one of the fastest growing feed markets in the world with attendant increases in demand for meat, milk and eggs from a middle class growing in number and influence.

An on-the-ground presence is extremely important in Vietnam, where government policies and market situations can change quickly. Caleb Wurth, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) assistant director for Southeast Asia, recently spent three weeks traveling throughout the country to assess the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus on local swine production and overall feed demand for corn and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as inform the Council’s overall strategic approach.

Wurth discovered Vietnamese producers are wasting no time in retooling their operations as the virus has affected a large portion of their swine herds. He observed farmers culling herd and clearing barns to make them ready for layers, broilers or ducks in the same space the next week. Farmers are also expanding into aquaculture – in both freshwater ponds in the delta region and offshore in cages along the coast.

“The extensive losses in swine production are being partially offset by increases in poultry and off-shore cage aquaculture,” Wurth said. “In response, the Council has begun working with local feed mills and DDGS importers to assist farms devastated by ASF to switch to poultry, layer or duck farming rather than give up meat production altogether.”

If an effective vaccine is discovered, however, the Council expects to see farmers revert to a similar pre-ASF protein mix, reinforcing the need to maintain both long-term efforts – like working to increase DDGS inclusion rates – and frontier market work – including hiring a full-time aquaculture specialist for the region through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (USDA’s ATP) program. Both pieces are necessary to successfully pivot alongside animal industries in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam is just one of the markets in Southeast Asia with tremendous potential,” Wurth said. “As programming pivots to address shifting market demands, the Council will continue to leverage the success of its programs, people and partnerships to cultivate significant sales of U.S. feed grains, ethanol and co-products.”

In less than a decade, Vietnam has grown from a top 10 to a top three corn importer in the world. The country is a significant importer of both U.S. corn and DDGS with additional future potential for U.S. sorghum. That same rising middle class is also creating additional demand for ethanol, aided by a nationwide E5 blend mandate expected to grow to E10.

These factors combine to make Vietnam a focus of the Council’s work to capture increasing demand for feed grains and ethanol export volumes for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses in Southeast Asia.

The world’s biggest pork consumer bought just over 10,000 tons of U.S. pork sometime between August 2-8. Reuters says that was the biggest purchase of American pork in almost two months.

The pork purchase is due for shipment this year as African Swine Fever continues to ravage the world’s biggest pork herd. The Chinese Commerce Ministry had said on August 5 that Chinese companies stopped buying U.S. farm commodities after yet another escalation in the trade war with America. Reuters says it’s not clear if the pork was bought before or after the August announcement. Analysts say the sales are seen as a sign that China needs meat from the United States to help offset the death loss of millions of pigs.

Steve Meyer is an economist with the commodity firm Kerns and Associates, who says, “It’s a new booking, which is positive.” China’s duty on American pork sits at a whopping 62 percent. President Trump backed off last week on part of his plan for 10 percent tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports starting on September 1. Late last week, China says it would counter the latest U.S. tariffs.