Animal Breeding / Animal Feeding / China / Genetics / Intensification / Pigs / Poultry / Trade / USA

Exporting American livestock genetics to China: Grain to follow?

Min piglets in Beijing

Min piglets at the experimental station at the Institute for Animal Science, in Beijing, China (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

America is breeding farm animals for China, Reuters and the New York Times report, to supply China with more meat.

‘. . . In a country where pork is a staple, the demand for a protein-rich diet is growing faster than Chinese farmers can keep up. While Americans have cut back on meat consumption to the lowest level seen in two decades, Chinese consumers eat 10 percent more meat than they did five years ago.

‘China’s solution: to increase its supply by buying millions of live animals raised by American farmers as breeding stock, and capitalizing on decades of cutting-edge U.S. agricultural research.

‘By taking this step, breeders and exporters say, China will move from backyard farms to Western-style large, consolidated operations to keep up with demand. . . .

‘The focus on livestock genetics also represents an emerging economic bonanza for two of the most powerful American industries: technology and agriculture. Worldwide, the United States exported a record $664 million worth of breeding stock and genetic material like semen in 2011. . . .

‘Last year, Chinese companies bought $41 million worth of live breeding animals and genetics, up threefold from five years ago, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

‘The demand for breeder pigs, in particular, is increasing after China lifted a two-year ban on hog and pork imports last spring. . . .

‘These animals are not sold for meat. Their value is in their genes, which allow them to grow faster, fight off diseases better and give birth to more babies that survive than their Chinese counterparts.

‘The effect of a vastly larger, more efficient livestock sector in China would cause a major shift in the global market, particularly for grain demand.

‘Even if Chinese demand cools for U.S. meat exports, the pace of Beijing’s growing demand for grain is unlikely to wane or offer relief to global agricultural markets, which are struggling to keep up. . . .’

‘Ronald Lemenager, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue University in Indiana, said: “When you have a nation’s diet changing as rapidly as China’s, the most efficient way to build up production is to improve your animal genetics. We have the genetics they want.”’

Read the whole article at the New York TimesFrom the U.S., a future supply of livestock for China, 20 Apr 2012.

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