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 Pork Expo, which draws an international crowd annually to the largest hog-producing state in America, will not be held this June as a precaution against the spread of African swine fever, said its sponsor, the National Pork Producers Council, on Wednesday.
Recent actions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration have exempted big livestock operations from reporting air emissions, according to the latest story from FERN, published with Mother Jones. (No paywall)
Pork producers will struggle through this winter with market prices below the cost of production, says economist Chris Hurt of Purdue University. "Record pork production and trade disputes continue to be the near-term drag on prices," wrote Hurt at the farmdoc Daily blog, adding that futures prices in the spring and summer "will be high enough to provide profitability."
In order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Smithfield Foods set a target on Thursday of equipping 90 percent of its hog-finishing facilities in three states with manure-to-energy digesters to capture biogas for eventual sale as renewable natural gas.
A month after Hurricane Florence swamped southern North Carolina with up to 40 inches of rain, state officials offered on Thursday to buy out hog farms that have a high risk of flooding in severe storms.
Gov. Roy Cooper earmarked $235 million for agriculture out of a proposed $1.5 billion in state spending for recovery from Hurricane Florence “and future storm resiliency” on Wednesday.
Hurricane Florence is the latest illustration that "flood-prone coastal states like North Carolina are no place for CAFOs," said the Union of Concerned Scientists, calling for tighter regulation of industrial livestock farms. Gov. Roy Cooper and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are scheduled to view agricultural damage today and may see some of the four dozen manure lagoons statewide that are flooded or overflowing because of storm water.
Some 57 manure lagoons in North Carolina were flooded, overflowing, or structurally damaged by the heavy rains and floods caused by Hurricane Florence — an increase of 14 in a day, said the state Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday.
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.