2022 WPX: swine consultant says disease and labor are key global concerns

SwineTex consultant Todd Thurman discusses ASF, PRRS, PEDv, and labor concerns
calendar icon 10 June 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

“I think in Asia we're kind of settling down to what's going to be the post African swine fever (ASF) reality and sorting through what does that look like. I think from a disease standpoint, we've arrived at where we're going to be for a while,” said Todd Thurman, a consultant with SwineTex.

Thurman was enthusiastic about news of a new ASF vaccine.

“There is some exciting news out of Vietnam with the ASF vaccine that I think is going to have some application in a lot of Asian countries that have, by choice or by default, ended up living with ASF,” he noted. “I think we are trying to sort out what does this look like? How do we continue to grow? How do we develop strategies around this new reality of living with ASF?”

Other notable diseases remain a concern around the world.

“Some of the familiar suspects that we continue to deal with, certainly in Asia, include PRRS and PEDv. They tend to be more underlying chronic issues in a lot of Asian countries compared to more of a cyclical event here in the US,” Thurman said.

However, the same disease issues that US producers are challenged with may just look a little bit different globally, but they are still a challenge.

“Domestically, it seems like we can't get past PRRS; it's always one step ahead of us. And, it continues to be a challenge we’re dealing with around the globe,” he explained. “ASF seems to have overshadowed everything, but none of these diseases went away. We're still having to deal with those issues as well. Disease challenges are top of mind, whether I'm talking to my clients here in the US, or my clients in China, the Philippines or Vietnam.”

Labor struggles

Thurman commented that those working internationally tend to see the same issues that we deal with domestically are also seen internationally.

“The two big issues, whether I'm talking to a domestic client, or a client in China, are disease challenges and labor. I've sort of joked that if we could somehow solve those two issues, then we would have easy sledding ahead of us.”

Labor challenges are not only significant, but they seem to be getting worse all the time.

“I just want people here in the US to understand that they're not alone. Everybody else is dealing with this, too. It's definitely the number two issue in China, and with ASF sort of receding and as COVID sort of recedes, I think labor challenges are really going to come to the front and become the biggest challenge for those producers as well.”

Risk of ASF entering North America

“Certainly everyone's nervous, and I think the appearance of ASF in our hemisphere has certainly changed that risk profile to some degree,” said Thurman. “COVID kind of bought us some time in terms of limiting a lot of international travel which is our primary risk. In general, I've been more optimistic than a lot of my colleagues in terms of being able to keep ASF out.”

He noted that even if ASF were to enter the US, he believes the US is well positioned to contain it.

Kyle Baldwin

Kyle is a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign majoring in Environmental Sciences.

Sarah Mikesell

Editor

Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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