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2019-11-04 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in International , 149 references Ignore this thread
Let 'Em Starve
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You probably haven't seen a large change in the price of pork products here.

But if you live in Europe and especially China, you sure have.

African Swine Fever, a virulent disease that kills pigs and for which there is no effective treatment or vaccine, has been decimating pig herds all over China and, more-recently, it has shown up in other European and Asian areas.  It's been called "Pig Ebola" with good reason -- and it's spreading quite rapidly.

The spread is interesting because it is harmless to humans; it is spread only through contaminated pork products or the clothing of people working with infected animals.  It also does not travel in aerosol, so it is not spread through the air.  However, the virus is very hard to kill and lives for months to years in infected areas even without a host, which makes decontaminating a farm or facility that suffers an outbreak extraordinarily difficult.

This also means that isolation and strict control of both animals and people who come and go from such facilities is the only real means of control.  It's been found in feral pigs in Europe, but so far European farmers have been successful in keeping the disease out of their herds.

Here's one specific example where the screamers about  "factory farm" operations are just dead-flat wrong.  Diseases of this sort can only be controlled by strict quarantine, in that if a single infected feral animal gets into your herd the entire herd is likely to be destroyed.  Only physical prevention of that and strict control of clothing and similar that is worn in the facility prevents transmission.

So far the Chinese have not had a catastrophic collapse of their pork supply, but that may well happen.  Pork is, by far, the most-consumed protein source in China but thus far farmers there have been slaughtering pigs ahead of their usual schedule, willing to take less for a lighter animal rather than risk having the entire value of the pig destroyed if it gets sick.  This of course is a short-term thing in that while it has prevented a collapse in their supply for now it also creates a huge downstream problem since breeding more pigs isn't a matter of snapping fingers!

It's estimated that China's production of pork could be cut in half by the end of this year.

This, by the way, is one of the big and nasty levers that America has when it comes to Chinese trade "ambitions."  An utterly enormous percentage of Chinese are poor; they cannot afford ridiculous price ramps, which are almost-certain to occur if this outbreak is not brought under control and continues to spread.

I say let the Communists over there who think they can steal anything not nailed down eat dirt.

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