Farmers in Europe keep suffering heavy losses over ASF

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Farmers in Europe keep suffering heavy losses over ASF

Related tags Asf Wild boar Pig Livestock Pork

The continuing epidemic of African swine fever (ASF) could incur UAH30 billion ($1.1 billion) in losses to Ukraine's pig industry over the next 15 years, the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection has said, citing estimates from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) experts.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Poland up to 15% of pig farms could be shut down and nearly 1.5 million pigs culled in 2018, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. From March the new anti-ASF biosecurity program will come into force, with strict rules mandatory for all pig farms in the country. Farmers will either have to fulfill its requirements or quit pig-breeding altogether, with compensation awarded by the government, the program stipulated.

In 2017 Ukraine’s pig industry suffered losses of around $12 million, purely due to its inability to export its pork products abroad, according to Alexandra Bondarskaya, a spokesperson for the Union of Pig Producers. Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Armenia, as well as Romania and Hungary have banned imports of Ukraine-origin pigmeat, Bondarskaya admitted.

As of 8 February, the Food Safety Service had registered 27 outbreaks of ASF in Ukraine since the beginning of the year, which meant that a new outbreak was being detected “almost every day”​.

However, Volodimir Lapa, head of the Food Safety Service, claimed that the situation with ASF this year was still slightly better than in 2017, which “was the worst year in terms of ASF spread​”.

In Poland it would be “impossible to eliminate ASF within the coming 10-15 years”​, Zygmunt Peisak, a professor at the Poland State Veterinary Institute told local environment-friendly organisation Green Front. When ASF entered Poland, state authorities suggested that all wild boars in the country would die out on their own. However, with no action taken, the wild boar population has grown and was likely to spread ASF to new regions, he added.

Russia claims EU is hiding ASF outbreaks

Meanwhile, Sergey Dankvert, head of the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, accused European Union authorities of hiding ASF outbreaks across the EU.

Speaking to a state-owned media channel in January, he said: “Europe only cares about international trade”​ of pork products, adding that the EU was not taking real steps to tackle the disease. This approach, in his opinion, meant the situation with ASF would only get worse.

Rosselkhoznadzor anticipated that pig farming in Europe was on the verge of even bigger losses, Dankvert claimed. According to him, the disease was expected to penetrate new countries, including Austria, Germany and Hungary,

The ASF situation in Europe was already worse than in Russia, Dankvert suggested. For instance, since 2007, 1,255 ASF outbreaks were identified in Russia, while in Europe this figure exceeded 8,233 outbreaks in just three-and-a-half years, Dankvert claimed.

The Russian Union of Meat Producers had estimated earlier that Russia’s meat industry suffered losses of around RUB50 billion ($1.3 billion) due to the spread of ASF in the period from 2007 to 2017.  

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