In September, the Iowa National Guard headquarters  became the incident command center for a four day simulation exercise to test how well  Iowa and the other top pork-producing states can contain and control an African swine fever outbreak.

As the disease, also referred to as “pig ebola” based on the fact it is also haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs, spreads through Asia,  American farmers are on the alert for any outbreaks.

Amanda Luitjens, animal welfare auditor for Christensen Farms, came from Minnesota to participate in the exercise. She said her company, which has a network of hundreds of farms in Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa, tracks every person, pig and vehicle that comes and goes. If the company had to determine if a specific animal or a certain truck that’s associated with an infected site had been through one of their farms, they could.

“We are spending a lot of time and energy working on these plans that all of us hope we never have to use,” Luitjens said.

The good news is that such pre-planning has led to America’s biggest supply of uneaten bacon in 48 years…at least until the Chinese buy it up.

More than 40 million pounds of pork bellies are sitting in refrigerated warehouses.

This, according to data released by the US Government Tuesday.

The nation’s supply of uneaten bacon is the largest it’s been in 48 years, since 1971. Experts say it’s because hog farmers have been building up their droves in anticipation of more meat demand from China.

…In recent weeks, China has been importing American pork at record levels.

In addition to importing more pork, the Chinese are also breeding pigs the size of polar bears.

The 500kg (1,102lbs) animal is part of a herd being bred to become giant swine. At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,400), over three times the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.

Although Pang’s pigs may be an extreme example of the lengths farmers are going to fill China’s pork shortage
problem, the idea that bigger is better has been spreading across the country, home to the world’s most voracious consumers of the meat.

Maybe the Chinese are onto something. Researchers have recently placed pork fat at #8 in the list of top 10 nutritious foods!


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