Tag Archives: African Swine Fever

There are no rearview mirrors on the motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, as the saying goes, implying the Vietnamese people never look backward, but stay focused on the future.

That can-do, progressive attitude has established Vietnam as one of the fastest growing feed markets in the world with attendant increases in demand for meat, milk and eggs from a middle class growing in number and influence.

An on-the-ground presence is extremely important in Vietnam, where government policies and market situations can change quickly. Caleb Wurth, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) assistant director for Southeast Asia, recently spent three weeks traveling throughout the country to assess the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus on local swine production and overall feed demand for corn and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as inform the Council’s overall strategic approach.

Wurth discovered Vietnamese producers are wasting no time in retooling their operations as the virus has affected a large portion of their swine herds. He observed farmers culling herd and clearing barns to make them ready for layers, broilers or ducks in the same space the next week. Farmers are also expanding into aquaculture – in both freshwater ponds in the delta region and offshore in cages along the coast.

“The extensive losses in swine production are being partially offset by increases in poultry and off-shore cage aquaculture,” Wurth said. “In response, the Council has begun working with local feed mills and DDGS importers to assist farms devastated by ASF to switch to poultry, layer or duck farming rather than give up meat production altogether.”

If an effective vaccine is discovered, however, the Council expects to see farmers revert to a similar pre-ASF protein mix, reinforcing the need to maintain both long-term efforts – like working to increase DDGS inclusion rates – and frontier market work – including hiring a full-time aquaculture specialist for the region through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (USDA’s ATP) program. Both pieces are necessary to successfully pivot alongside animal industries in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam is just one of the markets in Southeast Asia with tremendous potential,” Wurth said. “As programming pivots to address shifting market demands, the Council will continue to leverage the success of its programs, people and partnerships to cultivate significant sales of U.S. feed grains, ethanol and co-products.”

In less than a decade, Vietnam has grown from a top 10 to a top three corn importer in the world. The country is a significant importer of both U.S. corn and DDGS with additional future potential for U.S. sorghum. That same rising middle class is also creating additional demand for ethanol, aided by a nationwide E5 blend mandate expected to grow to E10.

These factors combine to make Vietnam a focus of the Council’s work to capture increasing demand for feed grains and ethanol export volumes for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses in Southeast Asia.

As the one-year anniversary of China’s acknowledgment of ASF in its country’s herds nears (August 3), it’s a good time to evaluate where the U.S. pork industry stands in its ability to deal with this ongoing threat that has now engulfed much of southeast Asia.

“We’re definitely in a better position today to deal with a threat such as African swine fever,” says National Pork Board President David Newman, a producer representing Arkansas. “That said, we can never be too prepared with a devastating disease like this. What I like though is how much our industry has come together over the past 12 months in a spirit of collaboration to get the job done.”

It’s this kind of industry-wide collaboration that Dave Pyburn, the Pork Checkoff’s senior vice president of science and technology, says is the key point that he wants everyone to realize. “It’s always gratifying to see how willing the pork industry is to come together for a common goal. We are so much more effective when we get together to solve issues posed by threats such as ASF.”

Catalyst for Collaboration

For almost a year, the Pork Checkoff has taken a leading role in collaborating with multiple government and industry partners to protect the United States from African swine fever (ASF). Primary partners in this effort include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center. When it comes to working on feed biosecurity issues specifically, the American Feed Industry Association has also been essential to the effort.

By combining their resources, these organizations and others have been able to achieve a comprehensive response to ASF that has helped to harden the defenses of the domestic swine industry against this costly foreign animal disease and others like it.

“You can break our industry response to ASF into four main areas,” Pyburn says. “We have research, education, prevention and preparedness, which is where we will continue to focus our combined efforts.”