Thursday, December 31, 2009

Livestock 2010: Serious Challenges

On December 29, the Ministry of Agriculture held its meeting to discuss work on livestock and animal disease control in 2010. The new agriculture minister, Han Changfu, and the vice minister, Gao Jibing, gave speeches.

The meeting conveys a sense of urgency about problems facing the industry. China's livestock industry is growing rapidly and experiencing rapid structural transformation. It faces the challenges of supplying the Chinese population's demand for animal products, avoiding food safety scandals like the melamine disaster, and preventing dangerous disease epidemics. Vice Minister Gao depicts the situation as grim and warns specifically of avian influenza, hoof and mouth disease and the threat of cross-border epidemics.

The meeting called for fully implementing "modern" livestock industry, and laid out 9 points for work in 2010 that reflect concerns about instability in livestock markets, problems with out-of-control rogue vendors, and animal disease. The solutions mainly involve reorganizing livestock, feed, and veterinary drug industries into fewer larger farms/companies that are easier to monitor and regulate. Lack of qualified veterinary personnel is a weak point in animal disease prevention reflected in the last couple of points. Here are the points for work in 2010:

1. Maintain an effective supply of livestock products and stabilize production of meat, eggs, and dairy. Implement the new round of the “vegetable basket” project for supplying food to cities, expand production capacity. Implement central government support policies for livestock, strengthen the system for disseminating good breeds and subsidies for them. Expand production capacity through grants to hog-supply counties, improve the egg industry. Set up a network of quality milk production bases. Continue strengthening livestock economy process monitoring and supervision, strengthen information publication.

2. Keep increasing the scale of livestock farms and standardize production. Work out the issue of conflicts over land for use by large livestock farms and environmental controls. Implement poultry and livestock record-keeping systems. Get farmers to work together to share experience and encourage adoption of Good Agricultural Practices where appropriate.

3. Strengthen food safety supervision/regulation. Quickly complete rectification program for milk purchase stations. Shut down uncompliant feed companies and milk stations. Thoroughly investigate people who deal in prohibited feed additives and drugs.

4. Implement basic pasture protection, balanced pasture and grazing rotation system. Reform pasture operations systems, push pasture contract operation regulation pilot programs. Organize and implement pasture protection projects. Strengthen pasture supervision system and pasture fire prevention work.

5. Strengthen animal disease prevention and control by implementing a system that specifies responsibilities at each level. Work on immunization, surveillance, reporting, quarantine regulation, emergency response and do a good job on emergency training drills. Strengthen guidance.

6. Strengthen regulation of veterinary medicines and enforcement of animal health regulations. Supervise production and use of veterinary medicines and promote concentration of the industry. Guide farmers in safe use. Organize and implement a veterinary drug residue monitoring plan. Monitor animal bacterial resistance, strictly monitor veterinary microbiology lab safety. Strengthen animal and animal product quarantine. Push animal tag and disease traceability system. Advance animal veterinary general legal compliance.

7. Coordinate issuance of national animal disease immunization system plan. Research veterinary drug “December 5” plan. Form important immunization and prevention medium and long-term plans, research improvement of disease prevention subsidy policies and standards. Integrate veterinary science resources, advance industry research relations.

8. Fully implement qualification exams for veterinary practitioners and continue establishing an official veterinary system. Implement veterinary training regulations. Step up rural veterinary and rural level immunization personnel training.

9. More international exchange and cooperation by veterinary personnel. Strenthen external affairs training for central and provincial personnel. Set up a reasonable national veterinary organization assessment system.

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