Pig farmers in China are in financial crisis as the country’s pork prices collapse. Unfavorable Chinese policies make it difficult for farmers to maintain their businesses.

Earlier this year, pig farmer Zhao Kai (a pseudonym) purchased a small number of piglets each costing over 1,500 yuan (about $ 235). His investment has become a financial burden, he told The Epoch Times in Chinese in a recent interview. Zhao’s farm is located in Qiqihar, a city in northern China’s Heilongjiang Province.

Selling the pigs now would mean a loss of at least 600 yuan (about $ 94) per piglet, Zhao said, putting him in a difficult position as he had to keep spending money on pig feed. Moreover, if he started to cut back on feed, his pigs would certainly lose weight, and then they would not be sold for a good price in the future.

“When the [hog] the price started to drop [earlier this year], everyone thought the drop was a fluke and the price would recover in a few days. No one expected it to drop so quickly and when the decline would stop, ”Zhao said.

Pork prices fluctuated in 2020 but remained at a high level throughout the year nonetheless, according to Chinese market data. However, in January, pork and pork prices started to fall, leaving pig farmers like Zhao to want to hold onto their pigs until they saw the prices rebound.

According to the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), pork prices in 36 Chinese cities averaged 21.26 yuan to 2.2 yuan. pounds (one kilogram) as of May 21, down 27% from the start of this year.

Meanwhile, pork prices stood at 20.43 yuan ($ 3.20) for 2.2 pounds as of May 19, down 44 percent from the start of the year, according to the NDRC.

China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of pork. Its pork industry was devastated when African swine fever hit China in August 2018. The deadly virus finally spread to China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in April 2019.

In response, Chinese authorities slaughtered millions of pigs, spiking pork prices in mid-2019. In September 2019, the NDRC and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs began providing one-time grants to pig farmers for the construction of new pig farms or the expansion of their existing operations, with the aim of boosting the country’s pork supply, according to the Chinese state. run the media.

Other measures approved by the state and announced in September 2019 included ordering Chinese banks not to cut loans to pig farmers and slaughterhouses, according to Chinese public media.

Chinese state media Xinhua, in an article published on May 25, attributed the drop in pork prices to several reasons, including the continued recovery in the country’s pork production. Another reason was lower consumer demand due to the warmer weather.

Beijing recently began to take strong action to curb the expansion of its pork industry.

“Policies are being tightened, unlike in previous years where the [Chinese] the government encouraged and supported [hog] Farmers. Since there is no longer a shortage of pork, regional governments have started to demolish the pigsties in the name of protecting the environment, ”Zhao said.

On May 25, Chinese public broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese authorities have started cracking down on problematic agricultural tent farms, which are sometimes used by pig farmers to raise their pigs.

According to the Chinese news portal NetEase, several provincial authorities, including those in Guangdong, Jiangxi and Shandong, closed some pig farms in their areas in May, while ordering other farms to close this month.

Frank Fang contributed to the article.