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Overview of This Week’s Pig Industry News

26 March 2012, at 11:33pm

ANALYSIS – The FDA has come under pressure to cut antibiotic use in farm animals in the US following a judge’s landmark ruling, writes senior editor, Jackie Linden. In the EU, pig prices were significantly higher on average in the first two months of this year than in the same period of 2011 although feed grain prices are also up so farmers are not enjoying the full benefit of higher prices. New outbeaks of African swine fever have been reported in two regions of Russia and in theCentral African Republic.

In the US, a judge has issued a landmark ruling that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must act to limit the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought last year by a coalition of consumer of advocacy groups suing the FDA over its inaction in addressing the growing public health threat posed by the daily dosing of antibiotics in livestock feed and the rise of antibiotic–resistant bacteria.

The lawsuit came on the heels of an FDA report released to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter confirming that 80 per cent of antibiotics are sold for use in agriculture.

“It’s about time,’ said Congresswoman Slaughter. “The FDA has been dragging its feet on this for 35 years.”

Livestock prices in the EU are up while feed prices are rising. EU feed wheat and corn prices are showing a slight upward trend, although they are still below last year‘s figures, according to the Agriview EU Market Prices for Representative Products report.

From January to February this year, feed wheat prices rose from €180.26 per tonne to €190.69. However, for the same months last year, the prices were €218.38 rising to a peak of €232.06.

Over the last year, the prices slid gradually to reach a low of €171.73 in November last year since when they have been on a gradual increase.

Feed corn prices slipped in August last year but have now started to show a small recovery. In February, they stood at €195.53 per tonne but this is compared to prices in the same month last year of nearly €230.

Feed oat, feed barley and malting barley prices are similar to last year at €188.60, €199.65 and €237.70, respectively.

Pig prices are up on last year and have remained consistently higher than the previous year’s prices over the whole of the last year.

While they slipped slightly in January to €151.41 from €159.34 in December last year, they rose again in February to €157.83 per 100kg. In February last year, prices averaged €144.04.

With most feed prices now under those of last year, there could be repercussions for the livestock and poultry sectors stabilising prices, but this could take some time to come through, the Agriview report warns.

What links pig carcass downgrades with bluetongue and Schmallenberg diseases? The answer is biting midges of the family, Culicoides. Bites from these midges caused pig carcasses in Scotland to be downgraded last year and the same family of insects transmits the virus that causes bluetongue and Schmallenberg diseases in ruminants.

The UK pig sector is more optimistic about its financial future than it was last year, although producers are less hopeful about the future than the processing and retailing side.

According to the British Pig Executive Pig Meat Industry Survey for 2012, one–third of the processors and retailers who responded to the survey were more optimistic about the future compared to last year. Half said they felt about the same as last year.

However, just 17 per cent of the pig producers in the UK said they were more optimistic than last year, with 67 per cent saying they felt about the same.

There have been no reports of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in pigs in the last week although the FAO has warned that urgent action is required to control a major outbreak of FMD and prevent its spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Dead pigs have been found to be infected with African swine fever (ASF) in the Russian Federation’s Republic of Kalmykia, which is in the south of the country and borders the Caspian Sea, and at a farm in the Kalachevskyi district of the neighbouring Volgograd Region. There have also been two outbreaks of ASF in the Central African Republic.