Some people may be surprised that the U.S. imports “organic” soybean meal from China and other countries. After all, recent research shows viruses like African swine fever (ASF) can survive a transboundary journey in some feed and feed ingredients, in particular organic soybean meal.

Scott Dee, DVM, director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services, says it is important for pork producers to understand that the U.S. imports some of these high-risk feed ingredients.

“Many people wonder why in the world we would do that,” Dee says. In 2018, he was part of a team that published research proving the deadly ASF virus could survive in feed being imported from another country.

However, banning the importation of products from ASF-positive countries simply isn’t feasible due to trade agreements, Dee explains. But producers can play an important role in raising awareness of these concerns, starting with their own feed mill.

“Ask questions of your local miller. Do they have any of these high-risk ingredients in their mill that is feeding your pigs? Such as soy-based products imported from China, Russia, or the Ukraine? Producers need to understand that this risk is ongoing. And they can act by talking to their local feed mill operators, finding out whether any of that product is coming into their local area.”

Interestingly enough, in a recent study Dee and colleagues published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, Dee says the data shows great changes that have taken place in the past two years in regard to importing organic soybean meal from China. He reached out to the U.S. Soybean Board to ask what caused this big drop in organic soybean meal imports.

“They told me it was because of the pressure the pork industry put on the whole topic of the ASF virus’ survival in feed,” Dee says. “Research showed what was happening and then industry press helped get out that information on the scientific work that had taken place. The industry is now very well educated on the topic and people understand what is taking place. And the U.S. Soybean Board said that’s why there’s been a big drop.”

The study, “Quantification of soya-based feed ingredient entry from ASFV-positive countries to the United States by ocean freight shipping and associated seaports,” was published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. Collaborators include Gilbert Patterson of VetNow, Megan Niederweder of Kansas State University, and Gordon Spronk and Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services.

Pork Farm Journal | Jennifer Shike | November 24