World meat production will decline for the first time in two decades because of the devastating epidemic of African swine fever in China, the world’s largest pork producer, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday.
Leaders of the National Pork Producers Council appealed to China to remove its 60 percent tariff on imports of U.S. pork so it can bring down the soaring price of pork for Chinese consumers.
Exporters reported the sale of 10,200 tonnes of U.S. pork to China during the week ending Aug. 8, the same period that China said it was shutting off purchases of American ag exports.
The largest U.S. farm group urged trade negotiators “to write the next chapter” in Sino-U.S. relations this week by eliminating trade war tariffs that are depressing ag exports, an important part of farm income. On Monday, the USDA reported an uptick in soybean exports to China, but there was no sign of large “goodwill” purchases on the eve of negotiations in Shanghai.
The trade war with China and low commodity prices will combine to slash U.S. farm exports by 4.5 percent this fiscal year, said the USDA on Thursday in a quarterly forecast. Exports of $137 billion would be the smallest since 2016, when exports bottomed out following the collapse of the commodity boom.
The highly contagious African swine fever, rampant in China, has never been found in the United States, but the USDA said on Thursday that it will step up its surveillance efforts against the viral disease, which kills pigs but does not harm people.
The world's leading hog producer, China has culled nearly 40,000 hogs in its attempts to stop African swine fever since the disease, deadly for hogs but no threat to humans, was spotted on its farms last month. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the disease will almost certainly emerge in other countries in Asia.