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African Swine Fever Sweeping Globe; is US Next?

African Swine Fever has been detected in three areas of Asia, sparking fears it could impact the pork industry.

ASF affects both domestic and feral swine and is highly contagious but does not affect humans and is not a food safety issue. The World Organization for Animal Health reported outbreaks last month in China, Russia, Moldova and Ukraine. Italy reported a new strain Jan. 5. Hundreds of million of pigs have been killed because of the disease, sparking pork shortages and increased prices.

Reuters reported recent ASF outbreaks in Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Thai officials limited the movement of pigs in the Nakhon Pathom province near Bangkok after detecting ASF at a slaughterhouse, Reuters reported (Jan. 18). Officials were considering a mass culling.

In the Philippines, active cases of the virus were reported in mid-January in 45 villages across the country, Reuters reported. Mexico ruled out an outbreak last month, saying instead it had detected circovirus type II, mycoplasma huyopneumoniae and Pastrella multocida, National Hog Farmer reported.

Elsewhere, the World Organization for Animal Health said there are new avian influenza variants that are making it “more difficult and riskier” for the organization to track outbreaks, Poultry World reported. Various highly pathogenic subtypes have been detected in 40 countries in the last six months, with 15 countries reporting outbreaks between October and December.

In other news:

Tractor, combine sales up: Tractor and combine sales increased by double-digits in 2021, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Sales of tractors over 100 horsepower increased 24%, and harvesters increased 25% when compared to 2020, reported Successful Farming. 

Ag Barometer up: Farmer sentiment climbed in December, rising 9 points from November’s reading, the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer finds. Analysts found increases in both the Index of Current Conditions and the Index of Future Expectations.

“A more positive outlook regarding their farm’s financial situation by ag producers was a major contributor to this month’s rise in both the Index of Current Conditions and the barometer,” the report said.

Family farms: The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 98% of U.S. farms are family operations, defined as any agricultural operations that sells at least $1,000 in agriculture products a year. There were some 2 million U.S. farms in 2020.

USDA released the “America’s Diverse Family Farms” report last month. Farms grossing less than $150,000 annually make up 34% of the population; those grossing $150,000 to $349,000 make up 5.5%. Midsize family farms grossing $350,000 to $999,999 make up 5.6%. Large and very large farms grossing $1 million or more make up 2.9% while nonfamily farms make up just 2.4%.