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ASF Germany: Growing disgruntlement about strategy

As the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus has been spreading into domestic pigs in Germany, disgruntlement has grown amongst German producers about how the virus is tackled.

In a reaction on the latest developments in domestic pigs in Brandenburg state, the German Farmers’ Union (DBV) demanded a more consistent approach of the ASF virus. In a press release, chairman Hubertus Beringmeier stated that more effective measures are needed in the battle to overcome ASF.

A German sign at a fence to warn for ASF. - Photo: Dreamstime
A German sign at a fence to warn for ASF. - Photo: Dreamstime

‘More consistent policy against ASF needed’

Beringmeier called for more speed, more unity and a more consistent policy when facing ASF. The recent outbreaks on 3 domestic pig locations in Germany have shown that the strategy to fight the virus is not sufficient.

Beringmeier stated that more emphasis should be put on the shooting of wild boar at the border with Poland, plus a double fence is needed at the border rivers Oder and Neisse to protect Germany against invading wild boar, as the virus is spreading like wildfire in Poland. Currently, 1 permanent fence has been put in place, which was completed recently. In addition, pig producers should be frequently testing the biosecurity on their farms. People near affected pigs keeping pigs on a very small scale should stop keeping these – and need to be compensated for that, Beringmeier said.

Saxony steps up measures against ASF

Almost simultaneously, the German state Saxony, which has also been infected with ASF, though not in domestic pigs, announced in a press release to step up the fight against the virus. More money, more staff and a stronger organisation will be made available to overcome the virus. The Saxon authorities estimates that only this year, the battle will cost € 18 million.

The Saxon government said that it is only possible to fight ASF by a strong focus on removing its wild boar population. In addition, the borders with Poland will have to close to stop new infections. Saxony has reported 313 wild boar infected with ASF so far – the first was found in this state on October 31, 2020.

Social affairs minister Petra Köpping explained: “The experience of the last few months and the current development of the situation with the first ASF cases in domestic pigs in Brandenburg show that we need more ministries to be more closely involved in the fight against ASF. We know that combating this animal disease is a tedious task, but we can only manage it if we bundle our strengths and skills more closely.”

European Commission shares ASF worries

Also at the level of the European Commission (EC), an increased level of worry can be noticed. European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides of health and food safety has expressed her worries too as not only in Germany but also in Tallinn, Estonia, 2 farms were found infected very recently.

The EC therefore aims to step up the fight against the virus, with extra funding as well as technical support. Kyriakides said: “The summer peak is yet to come. African Swine Fever does not know any borders. Only together and with strict measures, the virus can be overcome.”

The European ministers of agriculture have called for more surveillance at pig transport as well as pig meat marketing. Close surveillance as well as transparency can help in getting the virus under control, said, Jože Podgoršek, Slovenia’s minister of agriculture, forestry and food. He is also the current chairman of the European agricultural council.