September 12, 2018 / 11:04 AM / 3 months ago

China bans live hog transport from 10 new regions to stem swine fever spread

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned the transport of live hogs and pig products from 10 regions bordering the six provinces that have reported African swine fever outbreaks in recent weeks, a move set to further tighten supplies and roil prices in the world’s top pork consumer.

Live markets will also be shut in the regions, according to a notice by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs dated Sept. 11 and sent to animal disease control centres in the areas.

Two government agencies that received the notice confirmed its authenticity to Reuters.

The affected areas include the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Jilin, Fujian, Jiangxi, Shandong, Hubei and Shaanxi as well as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the city of Shanghai.

African swine fever is a highly contagious disease that cannot be cured and has no vaccine. It can also be transmitted in pork products, animal feed or by people.

Beijing had already stopped transport of live hogs in the six provinces that have reported outbreaks. That includes Liaoning in the northeast, which is estimated to export about 20 percent of its pigs each year to the south.

The move has pressured prices in the north lower as hog supply accumulates because of the transport ban and sent prices in some southern regions soaring.

The 10 areas under the new ban slaughtered a combined 217 million hogs in 2016, around one-third of the country’s total, according to official statistics.

Hubei and Jiangxi provinces are major exporters of pigs, said a note from Changjiang Securities, and would likely see prices fall. Importing provinces such as Guangdong and Zhejiang will face further rises in prices, it said.

Prices for live hogs in Zhejiang were 18.51 yuan ($2.70) per kg last week, well above the national average of 14.38 yuan, according to data collected by consultancy China-America Commodities Data Analytics.

Prices in Liaoning, meanwhile, fell to less than 12 yuan per kg, China-America reported.

Pigs are seen at a backyard farm on the outskirts of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China September 5, 2018. Picture taken September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Hallie Gu

Beijing’s measures are expected to take a major toll on small farmers who sell their animals to live markets, said an official at the Fujian Provincial Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Society who only gave his surname of Huang.

“Though prices [in Fujian] are up, the live markets are shut and there’s a ban on transportation so there will be no market for the farmers,” he said.

The tough new measures risk incentivising the illegal movement of pigs as farmers and traders struggle to maintain their livelihoods, said an animal health expert at a large pig producer who was not authorised to talk to the media.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu. Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Darren Schuettler

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