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African swine fever creates an opportunity for U.S. farmers

Kenneth Underwood
Senior Producer

Pork prices have surged this year as an outbreak of African swine fever sweeps across Asia, with up to 200 million hogs expected to die. Ted Seifried, Zaner Ag Hedge’s chief market strategist, estimates that China has lost 35% of its herd, which is larger than the U.S. hog herd population. Despite a 62% tariff on U.S. pork products because of the U.S.-China trade war, export sales of pork to China was 37,000 metric tons — “a surprise,” Seifried told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.

In this May 8, 2019, photo, pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm in Jiangjiaqiao village in northern China's Hebei province. Pork lovers worldwide are wincing at prices that have jumped by up to 40 percent as China's struggle to stamp out African swine fever in its vast pig herds sends shockwaves through global meat markets. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

So, the devastation in Asia could be a much-needed pick me up for U.S. farmers. “There's a tremendous amount of opportunity for us to be selling pork to China,” said Seifried. “They like their pork... That's the protein that they want. So the opportunity is really there for us to be sending a lot more pork to China.”

But the big question is whether the U.S. is capable of increasing pork sales to China. “Do we have the cold storage facilities at the ports? Do we have the cold storage containers to really amp up our exports to China on a really grand scale,” he said.

Wet weather hurting corn

Meanwhile, extreme weather in America’s heartland could have a devastating affect on our nation’s food supply.

U.S. farmers are feeling the pressure as severe storms and flooding make it difficult to plant crops. As of this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported only 49% of the corn crop had been planted. That’s the slowest pace on record.

“We've got roughly 47 million acres of corn left to plant, and we're really running out of time to do that very quickly….It's going to have sort of wide, sweeping implications if we can't get this crop in,” Seifried, adding that it will affect the export market, the amount of feed for animals and ethanol industry.

Kenneth Underwood is a senior producer for Yahoo Finance On the Move.