Foot-and-mouth could still impact pork exports and prices

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The foot-and-mouth fiasco that has swept the United Kingdom and affected everything from tourism to holiday festivities still has the potential to affect U.S. hog prices, said Kansas State University research and extension agricultural economist James Mintert.

“Efforts to halt the spread of the disease in the United Kingdom have not been successful, and concerns that the outbreak could become more widespread on the European continent still exist,” he said.

Restrictions on exports from the European Union into the United States have been put into place and, in late March, Japan also restricted pork and lamb imports from all EU countries.

“If foot-and-mouth becomes more widespread, it could provide a boost to U.S. pork exports,” Mintert said. “Conversely, if FMD enters the U.S., it could result in pork-importing countries restricting U.S. access to their markets.

“So, the direction the disease takes the next several months could have a significant impact on U.S. pork exports.”

A report by Reuters news service put the total number of cases of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed in the UK as of April 17 at 1,345, up from 1,323 a day earlier. The report put the number of total confirmed sites on the British mainland at 1,342; Northern Ireland at three; Netherlands at 25; France at two; and Ireland at one.

Updated information can be accessed at www.maff.gov.uk.

Exports robust.

Overall, U.S. pork exports during January were robust, Mintert said, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The numbers put January pork exports up 22 percent from a year earlier.

Exports to Japan climbed 35 percent and sales to Mexico jumped 54 percent while sales to other countries dipped.

“Obviously, January’s pork exports were shipped prior to the recent disease problems in the E.U. Still, exports during January were better than expected and imply that U.S. pork exports in 2001 could be better than forecast earlier,” the economist said.

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