World Meat Congress

Swine fever in Russia raises European concern

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Swine fever in Russia raises European concern

Related tags Wild boar Pig Pork

Concern is rising over the ongoing outbreak of African Swine Fever across Russia and the possibility it could spill out into wider Europe.

Richard Brown, consultant with market analyst Gira, speaking at the Pork Committee Meeting of the World Meat Congress (WMC) in Paris this week said that while the pork sector was buoyant, there was a worry that the disease may cause a problem.

He asked: “When are those wild boars going to wander across the border into Europe, and are we going to have a serious problem to deal with in Europe?”

Dr Klass Dietze, animal health officer with the FAO, said there needed to be action taken sooner rather than later. “This is a virus, and we vaccinate against viruses, but there is no vaccination for this, and we shouldn’t wait for one either – it could take years, if not decades, to develop.”

He said the problem created by wild boars introducing the disease and spreading it from farm to farm was an issue, but said simply culling wild boars was not the answer: “The Russians have been trying to eradicate the wild boar population, but it’s probably not the smartest way.”

He said the structure of farming in the areas affected were an issue, and pointed out there were also a lot of smallholders in Poland and Ukraine, which could cause further difficulties if the disease spread. “Investment in animal health among smaller producers is an issue,” he said.

To tackle the disease, the FAO is now seeking to raise awareness of the issue and Dietze said he was looking to the private sector for help to create a united front to solve the problem. He said that while the problem was mainly in backyard holdings, and small-scale farms, larger commercial units were still at risk, even those with the tightest biosecurity, and the disease had the potential to impact on the wider supply chain.

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