US Pork Exports To Dominican Republic Spike Amid Pig Ebola Outbreak

The first outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Western Hemisphere in four decades began on July 28 in the Dominican Republic and was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The presence of ASF has led to massive hog culling on the Caribbean island that borders Haiti. Bloomberg notes the island may have to slaughter more than half a million pigs to prevent the deadly swine fever virus from spreading. 

Pork supplies are dwindling, and Dominican importers are panic buying from U.S. slaughterhouses. The latest USDA data shows U.S. exporters shipped a whopping 3,500 metric tons of pork to the Caribbean nation earlier this month - the highest on record. 

Steve Meyer, an economist at Partners For Production Agriculture based in Ames, Iowa, said during a previous ASF outbreak in the 1970s, the Dominican Republic ramped up pork supplies from the U.S. 

"Exporting pork to there would be easier now as more companies are set up" to do it, Meyer said. 

The U.S. has taken pre-emptive measures to suppress the outbreak by creating a "protection zone" around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"USDA is committed to assisting the Dominican Republic in dealing with ASF, is offering continued testing support, and will consult with them on additional steps or actions to support response and mitigation measures," USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said. "We will also offer similar help to Haiti, which borders the Dominican Republic and is at high risk for ASF detections."

ASF outbreaks have ravaged hog populations in parts of Asia and Europe over the last several years. There is no vaccine against the virus, and outbreaks are usually contained by culling herds. This will only push up pork prices and drive food inflation higher - thus irritating consumers

Tyler Durden