EU updates control measures on African swine fever

Revised control measures following the confirmation of African swine fever (ASF) cases in wild boar in Lithuania and Poland were endorsed by EU member states experts meeting yesterday at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

In total since the end of January, only four cases have been identified in regions close to the Belarus borders. These cases are linked to the prolonged presence of ASF in the western regions of Russia and the introduction of the disease in Belarus.

These revised animal health measures identify three levels of risks for ASF and redefine the infected areas where ASF risks have been identified.

An EU decision providing financial support amounting to €3.5m for 2014 to combat the disease was also endorsed.

The new rules, that consolidate all existing national emergency preventive measures into one legal act, differentiate the zones by level of risk: a) higher risk because of endemic disease in pigs and wild boar in Sardinia (Italy), b) a re-demarcation of the infected area in Lithuania and Poland along borders with Belarus where the disease is present only in wild boar and c) a buffer zone adjacent the infected area in Poland and Lithuania to further prevent the spread of the disease.

The restrictions applied depend on the level of risk: a) very stringent restrictions in Sardinia, b) general restrictions in live pigs, semen and pig meat in the infected area in Poland and Lithuania with sustainable and safe derogations if risk mitigation measures (testing, bio-security) are applied and c) light restrictions applicable only to live animals accompanied by surveillance in the buffer zone.

The financing provided to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland is for surveillance, bio-security, targeted awareness campaigns, and compensation to farmers for early slaughtering and emptying low bio-security backyard farms at risk. These control measures will apply until at least 31 December 2017. More information is available here 

Meanwhile, the ongoing ban of pig exports to Russia is still in place. Positive talks took place over the reopening of the EU pig meat market in Madrid last Friday. Russian officials had proposed a ‘regionalisation’ of the EU where a nation with no common borders to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine could be reopened following further risk assessments. However negotiations on this are still ongoing.

In 2013, Ireland exported 20,165 tonnes of pork and pigmeat to Russia with a value €55m. This was up from 15,057 tonnes (€39m) in 2012.