U.S. pork producers hope to export more pork to China following outbreak of African Swine Fever
Daniel Williams
02:42

African Swine Fever continues to wreak havoc in China and across large parts of Asia. Although not a threat to human health, it is highly contagious and deadly for pigs. African Swine Fever has decimated at least 40 percent of China's pig population, leading to a chronic pork shortage there. That led to a rise in global pork prices… but American farmers are largely missing out.

Although China lifted trade tariffs on U.S. pork imports in September, so far, U.S. producers remain far behind the likes of Germany and Spain in supplying China's pork. Brian Duncan is the vice-president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. "There has been frustration.  For about two years as we've seen these trade wars go on. We've been behind the curve with Japan when we withdrew from TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). And this African Swine Fever has been bubbling in China and we knew there were opportunities there. And we see competitors get a leg up on the shelf space in China if you will."

Piglets at a farm in the U.S. state of Illinois. /CGTN Photo

Piglets at a farm in the U.S. state of Illinois. /CGTN Photo

A study by the U.S. National Pork Producers Council says the Chinese pork market could be worth 24.5 billion dollars within ten years, if U.S. producers gain unrestricted access.

Pat Bane has been raising pigs on his farm in the U.S. state of Illinois for 35 years. The uncertainty over China-U.S. trade could soon be resolved, with talks continuing over a "phase one deal." And that, Bane says, would be welcome news for the industry. "We are at a very high level of production in the United States, so we've got the pork there. If we get it, we would find a place to market this pork and if we don't then we are looking at restriction in the industry and a decrease in prices."

U.S. pork farmers have taken some strain in recent years, weighed down by the various trade disputes. But the industry as a whole has fared better than most agricultural sectors, thanks in part to the success in finding replacement markets. Although pork exports fell by almost four percent during the trade dispute, an increase in exports to countries including Colombia, South Korea and Vietnam helped offset those losses. But those markets are dwarfed by demand in China. 

U.S. pork exports remain far behind Germany and Spain in supplying China's pork. /CGTN Photo

U.S. pork exports remain far behind Germany and Spain in supplying China's pork. /CGTN Photo

"I don't even know what victory in this trade war looks like now. What has been accomplished with this. What has been gained, what if there was a more productive way to do it. The rest of the world continues to move ahead without us," says Duncan.