Pig laws set for post-virus epidemic shake-up

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Vladimir Putin wants radical measures to break the cycle of ASF virus outbreaks
Vladimir Putin wants radical measures to break the cycle of ASF virus outbreaks

Related tags Vladimir putin Russia Livestock Pork

The African swine fever (ASF) epidemic in eastern Europe may trigger sweeping reforms in the pig industry, as conventional methods of fighting the disease have been ineffective. 

In particular, following a recent meeting of its members on 14 September, Ukraine’s Association of Pork Producers issued a report demanding a revision of the veterinary circular on measures for the elimination of ASF outbreaks, which instructed veterinary officials to close all pig farms in the 3km quarantine zone around the outbreak.

This move should be taken within an agreement on veterinary and sanitary requirements for pig-keeping, which has not yet been signed by Regulatory Service of Ukraine. The main argument [why it is not signed] is that the document can negatively affect small-scale farms, as they [authorities] say, it is lobbying the interests of large businesses,​” the report suggested.

Representatives of the organisation added that, in the current situation, large businesses were targeting the destruction of smaller farms, which in turn were accused of destroying large businesses by not complying with veterinary rules and thus causing the spread of the disease.

Radical measures

In neighbouring Russia a recent outbreak of ASF on 19 September hit Cherkizovo farms,​ forcing a cull of nearly 15,000 head of pigs or 1% of the whole company’s pig population. A couple of weeks earlier, another large producer, Krasnodar-based Dan Kub, also lost 16,600 pigs due to an outbreak at one of its farms.

Following instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country’s government is now working on a National Strategy on the Struggle with ASF and many business representatives believe it may involve some radical measures, possibly aimed at small farms.

Speaking in July, Russian chief veterinary officer Nikolay Vlasov claimed that, to eliminate ASF​, the government would have to either kill every wild boar in the country or close each small farm. He suggested that these measures would “break the epizootic chain​”, so all outbreaks would be localised with no threat to any new territories.

Special ASF law

Similar measures have been proposed previously by numerous officials and market participants – and not only in Russia. The same view was expressed by Urmas Lahti, chairman of the Estonian cooperative for breeding pigs, who suggested to the government that he would purchase all the pigs from small farms with a population of fewer than 50 head. In his opinion this measure would help veterinary authorities to combat the disease.

A tightening of the rules to fight against ASF is currently under negotiation in Poland, where the Polish Sejm (lower house of the Polish parliament) is currently considering a second special law on ASF, expanding the power of veterinary inspectors and stricter rules on pigs’ movement.

In particular, an obligation to register all animals within 30 days will be introduced and any movement of animals must be reported within seven days. Whenever an outbreak is detected and for farms located in quarantine zones, farmers will be required to report about any movements, or the sale or death of pigs within 24 hours, so that the veterinary inspectors can track this.

Related topics Meat

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