ASF outbreaks cost the United States $8 billion annually

Fewer, but heavier pigs in America

The United States (US) has been at risk of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak since the virus was detected in the Dominican Republic. Economist Dermot Hayes says it could cost US$8 billion a year if it crosses the border.

The United States therefore supports the fight against the virus in the Dominican Republic and is doing everything it can to prevent its introduction. In addition, there are strict restrictions at sea and airports for illegal imports of pork or contaminated feed from Asia.

An ASF outbreak at a pig farm in the United States would lead to an immediate halt to pork exports. Also for countries like China and Vietnam where AVP already exists. China also no longer buys by-products, which must then be destroyed.

50 percent price drop

The export ban creates a 25 to 30 percent surplus of pork on the U.S. market. Then prices drop by about 50 percent. The price of chicken and beef will also decrease. As demand for corn and soy from other countries continues, agriculture is not affected.

If the ASF outbreak is contained quickly, it could cost the swine industry about $8 billion, according to Hayes. In his calculation, he assumes that exports can resume after two years and this temporary loss will remain.

$80 billion gone in ten years

The United States is at greatest risk if ASF reaches wild boar populations where there are crosses between wild boar and domestic pigs. Then the disease will not be under control. After a few years, this leads to a sharp contraction of the pig sector, which then produces only for its own market. Over ten years, Hayes expects an $80 billion loss, 60,000 direct job losses in the industry, and millions of indirect jobs.

The United States is still at risk of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). This viral disease occurs in Venezuela. Countries like Argentina and Brazil are trying to control the disease through vaccination.

If ASF and FMD occur simultaneously in the United States, the damage will increase significantly. FMD affects not only pigs but also cattle. As a result, beef exports will also stagnate and the livestock sector will shrink. If so, Hayes calculates $231 billion in damage over ten years and the permanent loss of 175,000 direct jobs and ten million indirect jobs.

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