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China’s Deadly Floods Hit Pig Farms and Raise Swine Fever Risks

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- The heavy rains that pounded Henan province in central China will cause damage to some hog farms in the major pork-producing region and potentially trigger fresh cases of African swine fever.

Small farmers will be severely affected by the torrential rains and there will be a “significant” short-term impact on logistics, including the transportation of hogs, according to Shanghai JC Intelligence, an agriculture consulting firm.

A bigger worry is the potential outbreak of African swine fever, said Lin Guofa, a senior analyst at consultancy Bric Agriculture Group. Floods increase the risk of disease as the virus can be found in pig’s blood, feces and tissue. Healthy hogs may be infected through contact with sick pigs or contaminated feed and water.

While China has largely recovered from the outbreak of African swine fever that started in 2018, the situation remains complicated and a worsening spread could harm the goal of replenishing pork supplies in the top consumer. The nation has reported 11 incidents of the disease this year and the emergence of new strains with milder symptoms and a longer incubation period makes it difficult to identify cases immediately, the farm ministry said Tuesday.

Quality Issues

Henan province is the country’s top wheat grower, accounting for nearly 30% of output, and the second-largest hog producer. It’s home to the world’s biggest pig farm operated by Muyuan Foods Co. and the planet’s top pork processor, WH Group. While Muyuan is closely watching the rain and says operations are normal, its shares tumbled almost 5% Wednesday to the lowest since November.

At least 12 people have died following widespread floods in Henan and about 100,000 have been evacuated. The main wheat crop is already harvested, but rains have affected its quality, which will lead to higher imports.

Henan is also the country’s largest egg producer, accounting for 15% of output. Heavy rains may push up egg prices, but the impact on corn and cotton will be muted, according to JCI. Corn is at a stage when it requires water, while the province’s cotton production represents less than 1% of the nation’s total.

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