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Swine Fever May Impede Growth In Russia Herd

The spread of African swine fever, a deadly hog disease, to near St. Petersburg could threaten Russia’s attempts to become self-sufficient in pork production, the U. S. Meat Export Federation said Oct. 28 in a note to members.

“If recent ASF outbreaks in Russia are as widespread as available information indicates, they could represent a significant setback to Russia’s goal of attaining self-sufficiency in pork production,” according to the note, which was obtained by Reuters.

Swine fever is not a threat to people but is deadly to hogs. Chicago Mercantile Exchange livestock traders said selling in hog futures dried up when Reuters reported the Meat Federation’s comments, noting that pork exports to Russia could rise if the disease spreads.

The spread to St. Petersburg, about 1,200 miles north of the southern areas which had the disease, raised worries it could “eventually spread into Europe, central Asia, or even China,” the note said.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization has also said the disease could spread outside of Russia.

“The danger is that ASF, which cannot be transmitted to humans, could spread to other regions including the European Union countries, Eastern Europe, the Black Sea basin countries and, in the worst-case scenario, to central Asia and even China, which has the largest pig population in the world,” the FAO said last week in a statement.

There had been talk in U. S. livestock markets that the outbreak could prompt Russian consumers to avoid pork, but the USMEF said on Wednesday there has been no indication of that.

The outbreaks this year and last year of H1N1 flu, commonly called swine flu and not related to swine fever, had overseas consumers avoiding pork even though it is not spread by hogs or pork. Currently, China still bans imports of U. S. pork because of human H1N1 cases here.

“We haven’t heard of any reports of an adverse consumer reaction,” USMEF spokesman Joe Schuele said of Russian consumers.

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