Weekly Overview: Sow Stall Ban in Australia to Cause Exodus; US Herd Set to Expand Again

ANALYSIS - The Australian pig sector seems to be following closely developments in the European Union as it is set for a - in its case, voluntary - ban on sow stalls and concerns over the disease risks of feeding swill to pigs. Jackie Linden reviews some of the highlights of this week's news from the global pig industry.
calendar icon 20 January 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

The Australian pork industry is preparing for an exodus of old piggeries unwilling to meet the 2017 deadline for phasing out stalls for pregnant sows.

According to a media report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Australian Pork Limited are saying little on the watchdog's investigation of claims of being sow-stall free.

The Chief Executive of Australian Pork said consumers do not accept highly confining stalls, and the industry had spent millions of dollars in researching better methods, such as loose housing arrangements. He said the pork industry standard allows sows to go into stalls for five days after mating, while Coles allows one day.

Also in Australia, a recent Victoria state Department of Environment and Primary Industries survey of more than 600 restaurants, hotels and other food outlets in the state found 71 of them supplied their waste to pig owners, representing a disease threat to Victoria's pigs.

The president of the pig section of the Victorian Farmers Federation said: "The risk is that a fair proportion of this food waste contains meat, which cannot be fed to pigs or other livestock. It's called swill and anyone feeding it to livestock faces a A$17,280 fine."

But the fine is a pittance compared to the risk swill-feeding poses to Australia's pig, beef and sheep industries; ABARES estimates an outbreak of the exotic Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) would cost the country's livestock industry A$52 billion.

The UK's National Pig Association has recently voiced similar concerns on the risks of swill feeding.

Looking at food waste from a different point of view, research by the publicly-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) has estimated that British families throw away the equivalent of six meals a week in food waste.

One year on from the 'Horsegate' scandal in the European Union, Members of the European Parliament have called on EU countries to fix penalties for food fraud at more than double what the fraudsters gain from the crime.

Finally, turning to news from the United States, it appear that a slow expansion in the US industry has started, driven by lower feed costs, which should lead to more rapid growth of pork supplies in the latter half of this year, according to Purdue Extension agricultural economist, Chris Hurt.

Stable cash prices were evident in the US hog market last week, reports market analyst, Jim Wyckoff.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) continues to spread in the US pig herd. The latest weekly report gives another record-breaking figure for new virus-positive test results and latest findings in South Carolina bring the number of states affected to 23.

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