Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pork Policies: Don't Panic!

The Ministry of Agriculture announced six policies to address soaring pork prices. In August 2007, the last time pork prices shot up like this, the government also announced a series of subsidies and ordered banks to lend to farmers and pork processors. The big expansion of industry capacity that followed drove prices down to loss-making levels two years later.

The policies announced this time are actually resolutions to implement already-existing programs and don't portray the sense of panic the government showed in 2007. These policies are being introduced by the Ministry of Ag, not the State Council. Maybe the government learned from its intervention mistake last time around.

The first two measures are to pay out existing subsidies that were introduced in 2007--subsidies for fine breeds, "awards" to hog-surplus counties, building above-scale hog farms, and setting up "demonstration farms" that show surrounding farms how to do things right.

The second measure is an emphasis on disseminating technology and advice. The "sunshine project" for rural training is to offer hog industry training and veterinary and scientific personnel are "to be brought into play", probably by giving training courses.

An intriguing measure is the command to bring order to the breeding industry, including a strict crackdown on sale of low-quality breeding hogs. "Strengthen breeding farm quality testing, raise the quality of breeding farms, oversee the issue of business licenses and management of breeding farms, strengthen county breeding propagation farm oversight."

The fifth measure is to strengthen disease control and prevention. Make sure pigs are vaccinated for foot and mouth, highly-pathogenic blue ear disease, swine fever and other diseases. Tighten monitoring and quarantine in marketing. Special attention is given to advance monitoring of "vertical transmission" of disease from breeding farms.

The sixth measure is to improve monitoring of production and information guidance.

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