2012 SwineCast JBS United China

American Observations on Life in China

Life in ChinaCities and Swine Seemingly everywhere one looks China offers two views of today. Outside the Weifang train station, open spaces and modern, even futuristic buildings give the appearance of a prosperous nation ready to lead on the world stage. In truth, many of the offices and apartments we observed were empty. The leaders use construction to employ the people on the assumption that it's cheaper to build today than it will be tomorrow. Inside these buildings are cement walls and roughed in plumbing. Around the corner you see workers on a bamboo raft clearing algae from a retention pond, using technology of decades past.

My recent China sojourn, with JBS-United, was a reminder of the massive changes our North American swine industry has embraced. Internal issues (genetics, disease, feed quality) and external issues (feed costs, blasted hot weather, immigration) have been dealt with and cataloged for future "black swan" events. The overwhelming sense of purpose, unity, vast resources that I viewed as we traveled is offset by flexibility, adaptability, hygiene and husbandry here at home. It's easy to be awed by the China machine but we have the lead and the know-how to maintain it [Editor note: text and photo Ned Arthur, SwineCast].

Agriculture in China

China AgricultureRegions Agriculture is alive and well in China as I see it today and will be changing tremendously over the next century. It sure is nice to see the Chinese Government behind citizens and businesses, building the infrastructure and supporting ( tax wise ) food production for the masses. We (in the USA) might need to have a population explosion to create enough demand for food, so that the politicians quit listening to the naysayers of our industry [Editor note: text Jim Lease, JBS United]!

Animal Health Concerns and Food Variety

China Animal HealthAnimals and Food The primary concern on disease has been pig scours. Foot and Mouth are not much of an issue where I have been so far. Lower slaughter weights are an issue, just like in the US.

Food prices are higher here (China) now, everyone says. However, we can still eat a large meal for under $10 most anywhere except the western fast food places. KFC has a pork burger sandwich over here. Why can’t we get that done in the USA ????? It is not bad but could have improvement for my tastes. The local Pizza Hut has some good pizza similar to the US, with 3 pizzas costing about $45, which is probably about the same as the US or a bit less.

China Weather and Impacts

China WeatherHot / Humid and the Price of Feed The Chinese farmers are aware of the US drought conditions and had lots of questions on how bad it might be and where it drought is occurring in the United States. Corn prices in China (Shandong province, China) are about $10.50 and soybean meal (SBM) prices are around $540/ton. Pigs are at break-even levels for the year or even less for some. Excellent producers are now making less than $15/head. It is possible that corn in China will go to $15/bushel this next year and SBM to $600/ton.

Much of the poultry industry is failing and falling fast. Most of the feed companies are not making money this year at best and losing a load at worst! The weather has been mild in their eyes, but I find that heat and humidity are pretty much like the worst in the Midwest. Corn looks real good and everything is green! They use irrigation and can do that with individual water hoses that are dragged from row to row by the owners. This is best described by a clear plastic tube that looks to be about 2 ½ inches and pretty light plastic (we ran over one on the driveway and it started a nice water shooting display) [Editor note: text Jim Lease, JBS United].

Sighings of China Ag Equipment

China Shifeng GroupEquipment This tractor (larger image) is from the Shifeng Group, the world’s largest farm equipment company in Gaotang, Shandong, China. We took a tour of the manufacturing plants where they build engines, motors, tires and batteries to support the vehicles. The Shifeng Group builds all kinds of trucks, motorized carts, tractors and combines and they have been building electric cars since 2007. They are looking to add new factories to expand on the demand in China. Their market internationally is the developing countries, focusing on South and Central America, India and Africa [Editor note: Combine image, small electric car; text and photos Jim Lease, JBS United].

China 2012 Through July 22 SwineCast, with a team from JBS United, will be traveling around the Shandong Province of China to share experiences in pork production. I'll aim to keep a running update of things learned and surprises discovered.

Ned Arthur
Your SwineCast Host