Thursday, June 27, 2019

Sunny With Chance of Rising Pork Prices

A cheerleading session by Chinese agricultural officials emphasized the stability of agricultural markets while acknowledging risks of pests, disease, and extreme weather events. One official described the "overall adequate supply" of farm products as a "support against external risks and challenges."

The June 26 press conference given by three Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs officials began with glowing reports of the summer grain harvest and prospects for fall crops, and the remarks finished with praise for this year's "soybean revitalization plan." In between, however, officials worried about northern drought and southern floods due to El Nino, the spread of fall army worms to northern corn-growing regions after summer monsoons, rising prices of pork due to African swine fever, and short supplies of apples and pears due to cold weather last year. Fall army worms were described as a new threat to the structure of the country's grain production.

The Ministry's efforts to address China's tight pork supply occupied the largest part of the remarks. The Ministry officials urged their listeners (other officials and news media) to send positive signals about the pork market, convey interpretations of market reports that create "good expectations," and "guide" pig farmers to restore their confidence and restock their barns. The Ministry is also "guiding" expanded supply of poultry and other substitutes for pork. One official promised to implement the communist party central committee's instructions by doing everything possible to stabilize and revive production of pigs.

Officials ordered local cadres to effectively utilize an annual transfer payment to hog-surplus counties, make use of aid for African swine fever prevention and control, give subsidized loans to breeding farms and large-scale farms, give companies unspecified help to survive the difficulties, make exceptions to strict local land-use zoning for large hog farms, promptly pay farmers compensation for culling animals, and improve policy-type insurance for hogs.

Local officials were urged to continue a program to create large-scale model pig farms with good biosecurity and manure utilization to provide guidance to medium- and small-scale farms. Experts and technicians are to be sent to farms to give guidance on breed improvement and efficient production techniques. Inspections of disease treatment, transportation and slaughter are to be carried out, and swill-feeding is to be banned.

Agricultural officials attributed stable grain production to tight controls on farmland, construction of medium- and high-standard fields, creation of a "modern" seed industry, mechanization, and dissemination of technology to farmers. Agricultural officials now want to diversify sources of food by encouraging production and marketing of specialty products with geographic indications from mountainous regions, grasslands, oceans, and forests.

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