ASF was identified at the farm, Ivitsa-2, which has a total stock of 22,000 pigs and is located in the Korochansky District of the Belgorod Oblast, the company told this site. Miratorg has already sent samples to the state veterinary laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
Russia’s veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor also confirmed the presence of ASF in the samples received from Miratorg, according to a release on the agency’s website. The entire pig population at the farm needs to be culled, Rosselkhoznadzor added.
Miratorg has started quarantine proceedings at the affected farm, so as not to allow the virus to spread further. The company operates 27 pig farms in Belgorod Oblast and neighbouring Kursk Oblast, where it manufactured 409,000 tonnes of pork in 2016.
The company has not revealed where the virus came from, saying only that an internal investigation has been started to identify the source of infection.
The ASF outbreak has come despite “extraordinary measures” taken by the company to protect its farms from the disease, said company president Viktor Linnik in the statement.
He emphasised that the company had become “a new victim” of a complete absence of veterinary control in Russia’s backyard farms, as well as the uncontrolled movement of potentially infected animals and infected products throughout the country’s territory.
To stop the spread of the disease, strict and immediate measures must be put in place at federal and regional levels, Linnik stressed. “The entire pig industry [in Russia] is at stake, just like the food security of the country,” he added.
Miratorg has already promised that the outbreak will not disrupt the company’s supplies to retail chains, although it said it was too early to estimate losses as yet.
Corpses in the packing film
In a release posted several days prior to the outbreak, on 6 December, Miratorg had warned about the situation with ASF in Belgorod Oblast.
It noted that some “strange corpses of pigs” were found in Korochansky District, not far from the company’s farm. It was unknown where the corpses came from and whether they were infected with ASF or not.
Due to this incident, local law enforcement agencies opened a criminal case, while Rosselkhoznadzor initiated quarantine proceedings in the area.
Miratorg said the incident would not affect its farms as, according to Russian veterinary legislation, the farms with the highest confirmed level of veterinary security, had not suffered any problems, even when operating in territories where the quarantine regime was in place.
This is the second ASF outbreak at an industrial farm in Belgorod Oblast – the region where around 23% of all Russian pigs are concentrated. The first was also registered in 2017, at the farm of another Russian agricultural holding, RusAgro, in September.