Biosecurity and Disease Management in China’s Animal Agriculture Sector

Xinjie Wei, Wanlong Lin, David A. Hennessy
October 2013  [13-WP 542]

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Wei, X., W. Lin, and D.A. Hennessy. 2013. "Biosecurity and Disease Management in China’s Animal Agriculture Sector." Working paper 13-WP 542. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


China’s livestock production sector is changing rapidly to meet a variety of challenges. At the same time, China’s domestic consumers have begun to demand better quality and safer dietary protein sources; potential for international food market penetration has been compromised by food scandals; and her animal agriculture sector remains a concern for emergence of zoonotic diseases. The country is in the process of a major public animal health infrastructure upgrade, and is seeking better integration with international public animal health governance structures. The intent of this article is two-fold. We provide an overview of and commentary on China’s animal husbandry sector and animal disease control policies. We also assess weaknesses in its animal health and biosecurity infrastructure. China’s animal health administration countenances institutional weaknesses that are shared with higher-income countries, but her problems are more pronounced. Administrative failings include poorly demarcated and inconsistent oversight as well as failings in accountability. The need for professionalization of animal health careers, emphasis on quantity goals over qualitative metrics, as well as a want in scientific analysis and follow-through when prioritizing are other weaknesses. Government policy has been to promote larger-scale production, primarily to better secure wholesome food domestically. Production is changing in ways that may pose intermediate-term threats to animal and human health, but the longer-term outcome may be a production base that poses fewer concerns for global health.

Keywords: animal health, global public goods, industry structure, public administration