Brussels Pledges Help If ASF Strikes EU

EU - Pig farmers will be compensated, to some degree, for the inevitable drop in their incomes if African swine fever crosses into the European Union, according to health commissioner, Tonio Borg.
calendar icon 25 September 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the UK's National Pig Association (NPA), Mr Borg told European health and consumer ministers that the Commission is ready to activate financial tools to cover and co-finance direct losses through its veterinary fund.

Brussels has been urged by a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, to cover direct and market losses, if the disease crosses from Russia or Belarus into the European Union.

And if pig herds have to be slaughtered, it should also help pay for restocking, say ministers from Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland and the United Kingdom.

European Union disease experts have voiced deep concern over the high risk of African swine fever spreading to the European Union. The disease is now within 30 miles of the Lithuanian border.

If African swine fever does cross into the European Union, Brussels will introduce exceptional market measures to address indirect losses that would arise from serious market disruption.

Pig producers are concerned that European pig prices will fall if the European Union has to introduce an export ban from affected countries.

Poland has called for better cross-border coordination, to prevent the disease coming in on the wheels of a lorry or in illegal food.

Brussels has already agreed to co-finance projects worth £2m to stop the disease getting into neighbouring countries.

Mr Borg said that the Commission was working with Russia and Belarus to improve control of the disease "even if the signals that we receive from the other side are not always encouraging".

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation warned last year that pig farms in countries close to Russia and Ukraine face a "high risk" of contamination.

ASF Discussed at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The Council was briefed by the Polish delegation at its meeting on 23 September about the risk of ASF possibly spreading into the EU and on the need for coordinated actions.

As outbreaks of ASF were recently observed near the EU borders in Belarus and the Russian Federation, several member states supported the Polish request to the Commission to coordinate preventive actions to avoid the spread of this very contagious disease into EU territory.

In addition, financial resources to cover potential direct and indirect losses linked to this disease should be guaranteed.

The Commission pointed out that an envelope of €2.5 million had been attributed to Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to put in place preventive veterinary measures to avoid the emergence of ASF into the EU. In addition, a specific agricultural fund already exists to compensate any market disruptions, should the disease enter into the EU.

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