The effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic on the livestock sector are still largely unquantified and yet to be fully felt. While formal assessments have not been possible so far, current observations reveal disruptions to livestock value chains in many countries.
Restrictions on movement and the need for physical distancing to keep people safe and slow down the spread of COVID-19, along with requirements for additional personal protective equipment, are reducing the efficiency of industrial feed enterprises. In addition, movement restrictions and illness are resulting in labour shortages and reduced supply of raw materials. For example, the disruption of supply routes has delayed feed supply. In Argentina, the world’s largest soya bean meal exporter, restrictions have reduced soya bean supply to feed factories by half. Movement restrictions have also disrupted the ability of pastoralists to move their livestock to new grazing ground, making it difficult for them to feed the animals.
Disruption of national and international trade routes has also impeded the ability of farmers to access breeding material and replacement stock, and this, in turn, could compromise sales for input providers. The disruption of public services (food safety inspection and animal health extension services in particular), combined with the interrupted delivery and use of vaccines and medicines, has increased the likelihood of outbreaks of serious livestock diseases, such as African swine fever in East and South East Asia, as well as zoonoses.
REDUCED ACCESS TO MARKETS
Another impact of the pandemic and related trade restrictions has been the closure of live animal markets in many countries, which has made it difficult for small-scale producers to sell their goods. The effect of poor market access has been exacerbated by lower consumer demand, which has seen prices fall. US pork prices, for example, dropped about 27% in just over a week in April.
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