FDA: Coronavirus disrupts supply chain for U.S. animal drugs

Six firms are seeing disruptions in the supply chain because of Covid-19 that could lead to shortages of animal drugs for the U.S. market, said the FDA in an update. Some 32 animal drug companies make finished drugs or buy active pharmaceutical ingredients in China for use in the United States, said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn late last week. “The FDA has contacted all 32 firms and no shortages have been reported at this time. However, six of those firms have indicated that they are seeing disruptions in the supply chain that soon could lead to shortages. The FDA is working with these firms to help identify interventions to mitigate potential shortages.” There were no details on how large a share of the animal drug market was held by the firms.

Hahn reiterated there are no reports of coronavirus illnesses transmitted by food or food packaging. “Every federal agency will be involved” in the government’s response to the coronavirus, said Perdue at the Commodity Classic last week, according to USDA’s radio news service. “Our scientists that deal with viruses in animals all the time are helping in research, looking for any kind of possibility, even vaccines, that may help.”

Meanwhile, China’s Tariff Commission of the State Council said it will accept applications for tariff exclusions beginning today from companies that want to purchase and import U.S. products, including pork, beef, soybeans, wheat, corn, sorghum and ethanol.

“These will enable China’s commitment to buying more U.S. goods as stipulated in the terms of the U.S.-China phase one trade deal. It also supports China’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak through increasing the imports of medical apparatus and instruments from the United States,” said the consultancy Dezan Shira and Associates.

The virus has prompted concern about promises of expanded U.S. sales to China this year and in 2021. Trump administration officials say China has not asked for a delay.

Perdue referred to the outbreak as a pandemic, a stronger term than other officials use, reported CNN, while encouraging farmers to continue producing food. “I think you all need to go about your jobs in the way that you have been, producing safe, reliable, abundant food for all of us in that way, that’s the best thing we could do — is go back and do what you’ve been doing.”

Agribusiness giant Cargill, with 160,000 employees worldwide, has banned nonessential international travel by employees due to the coronavirus outbreak, said Minnesota Public Radio. Based in the Minneapolis suburbs, Cargill offered alternatives such as tele- and video conferences.

China’s campaign against the coronavirus has interrupted shipments of U.S. food and ag exports, as varied as oyster meat, lumber, frozen french fries, grain and lumber, said NPR. “Global trade watchers say backed-up trade is building up on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.”

Hubei province, identified as the source of the coronavirus, is a large producer of phosphate fertilizer, said DTN/Progressive Farmer. Rabobank vice president Sam Taylor said up to 60 percent of the fertilizer plants are closed because of the epidemic. Production is expected to resume at full scale by the end of March, he said, but in the meantime, phosphate prices could go up while other fertilizers, such as urea and UAN, go down.