The African swine fever epidemic is causing an increased demand for Australian pork.Victorian Farmers Federation's Pig Group president Tim Kingma said the fever was affecting Australian markets.
“There's more demand for pork now,'' he said."For pig farmers in the industry prices are a lot higher, which is covering the costs, whereas two years ago we were losing money.
“We've just come off two years of people leaving pig farming across Australia. In the last two years Australia has lost about two per cent of the national herd. In our region a lot of farms have left,” Mr Kingma said.
African swine fever has spread across Asia and has reached the Philippines, Australia's neighbour. The fever has the potential to come into Australia via cultural foods and has necessitated a tightening of national border security.
Pig farmers feared the fever would reach Australian farms and Mr Kingma said pork producers were nervous about biosecurity.
“I'm definitely concerned, if it reached my farm all my pigs would be destroyed.
“I have sensors on my farm to stop feral pigs from coming in.
“I'm strict on what pork products staff bring into the farm; a lot of ham is imported into Australia.
“Ham off the bone is 100 per cent Australian; I always tell everyone, if you want to support Australian farmers, get ham off the bone,” he said.
The fever is expected to have a significant impact overseas.
“In Asian countries it's popular to have a pig in your own yard. Here, the pig farms have more control (of biosecurity). The risk here is if a pork product is eaten by a feral pig that comes into the farm,” Mr Kingma said.
China has reported more than 140 cases of the incurable disease since it was first found in the country in August last year.
Rabobank’s senior animal proteins analyst for China, Chenjun Pan, said China was set to become Australia's largest beef market as Chinese consumers shifted away from pork to other proteins.