Worldwide Hog Industry on Alert for ASF; Flood Wipes Out NE Cattle

Jim Wiesemeyer joins Chip Flory on Agritalk to discuss the illegal shipment of pork food products from China, and the flooding in Nebraska. ( Farm Journal )

As headlines about African swine fever in China continue to grow, the U.S. and other countries around the world are stepping up measures to prevent the disease from entering their borders.

“This ASF (African swine fever) thing is really gaining in the multiplicity of stories, not only from a U.S. perspective, but around the world. So now it's either No. 1 or No. 2 relative to China,” said Jim Wiesemeyer on Agritalk last week.

The recent discovery of an illegal shipment of pork from China is even more concerning. Friday, March 22, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents clarified they seized 1 million pounds of food products from China this month, rather than 1 million pounds of pork as they had previously announced on March 15.

The seized containers also had noodles and tea bags that were used to facilitate the unlawful import of pork products, said Anthony Bucci, CBP spokesman. No fresh pork was discovered in the shipment.

But even the shipping manifest said the pork products were from China, Wiesemeyer told Agritalk host Chip Flory, which puts the worldwide hog industry on guard against similar shipments.

While there is no vaccine for the disease that causes a 100% mortality rate, researchers might be able to use gene editing to find a new control, Wiesemeyer said. He added that some researchers are investigating why some animals in herds have not gotten sick.

“The best people I've consulted say it's almost impossible to come up with the vaccine. I hope they're wrong,” he said. “But this thing is far different than most any other disease that we've handled.”


Flooding in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri

Disaster relief will come later, rather than sooner, because this is ongoing, Wiesemeyer said. The flooding is likely to hit cattlemen hard, as well as row crop farmers.

“[Sec. Sonny] Perdue actually set a number that seemed high to us at Pro Farmer—up to 1 million calves in Nebraska,” he added.

Listen for more of Wiesemeyer’s insight on other policy issues, including Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and the EPA’s small refinery exemptions for the Renewable Fuels Standard on the player above.