Some thoughts after 1 week in China

It’s 7 am on Friday morning in Xiamen City, China and my most recent trip to China is rapidly coming to an end. I am scheduled to visit a swine farm today. I have no idea if I will see facilities that include western production technology such as feed lines and bulk bins or if I will see feed delivered to farms in 50 kg bags and added to feeders manually.

In the past week I have not heard any production group talk about expansion when discussing their future production plans. Every group talked about the increased government pressures for dealing with manure storage and utilization. Environmental protection is rapidly becoming a reality in China, but they still have a long way to go. All producers talk about the need to use a ‘red bag’ for payments to government officials if they want any environmental approval.

They cannot understand how our permit process which often consists of public hearings and open record filings operates. Transparency in governmental relations is basicly an unknown to the average Chinese citizen or business.

The vast majority of ‘confinement’ production facilities consist of solid concrete flooring with pens washed 2x daily. This uses huge amounts of water and creates huge storage needs for the contaminated water.

Another interesting observation in how technology gets applied in the China swine industry. They are very aggressive in using enzymes, probiotics, etc. in their diets to get sometimes what I see as very small advantages in feed efficiency. At the same time, dumping feed into feeders that may or may not be adjustable negate any advantage that the feed may have. Producers and production systems appear to be looking to feed as a cure.

I’ve had a lot of questions on our use of ractopamine. As one technical consultant told me – the government bans ractopamine use since they can’t manage to regulate it effectively. How can they then allow other countries to use the product and let the pork into China? Thus part of the debate on ractopamine free pork is really a reflection of the current state of feed additive regulations in China, rather than a statement about the safe use of the product in the international market place.

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