【News】 Declining hog farms and disease outbreak force half of regional piglet markets to close (April 14, 2015)


Yuji Hosoda

Regional markets which trade piglets for fattening are recently closing down one after another. Out of 12 such markets which existed in 2013, six were either closed or temporarily suspended by April, as hog farms are increasing their size while their number is dropping, and farmers are refraining from moving their piglets after the spread of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus. Farmers, who have been depending on the markets to trade piglets, are forced to find other ways to market them, and market dealers express concern over its impact on the prospects of the regional swine industry.

The Japan Agricultural News found that piglet markets in the prefectures of Miyagi, Chiba, Aichi, Saga, Kumamoto and Okinawa were closed since 2013.

The markets in Aichi and Kumamoto prefectures stopped offering bids for piglets in April, as the PED outbreak reported in the neighboring areas has not completely died down. PED virus has very high mortality in piglets, and according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, some 450,000 were infected nationwide between October 2013 and March this year.

Toyohashi livestock market in Aichi, which suspended trading of piglets in fiscal 2014, decided to continue suspending trading in fiscal 2015 in order to prevent further spreading of the disease. The market for piglet trading is highly likely to close, according to an agricultural co-operative in Aichi.

The epidemic outbreak is having a severe impact also on the markets which continue trading piglets. A market in Aomori Prefecture, which marked the nation’s top deals of 18,700 in 2013, eagerly took disease prevention measures such as building additional sterilizing facilities and sprinkling lime more frequently. However, they failed to stop the decline in trading of piglets, with the amount of daily trading dropping to one-third of the average year on some days. The agricultural co-op which operates the market says it is getting more difficult every year to maintain trading.

Ministry statistics show that the number of hog fattening farms totaled 5,300 in 2014, down 40 percent from a decade ago. Meanwhile, the number of hogs per farm surged nearly 70 percent during the same period, and more farms are engaged in both breeding and fattening. However, a dealer at a market in the Kyushu region, while acknowledging the declining need for piglet markets, says further closing down should be avoided because there still are farmers in the region who depend on markets.

(April 14, 2015)

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