Banning backyard pig farms is not the way for Russia

20-10-2017 | | |
Banning backyard pig farms is not the way for Russia. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel
Banning backyard pig farms is not the way for Russia. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel

Economic measures, rather than an outright ban of backyard farms, may help Russian veterinary authorities to control African Swine Fever (ASF).

An outright ban is likely to be contradictory to national Russian legislation, according to Alexander Rondin, president of Russia’s Association of Peasant and Backyard Farmers, in an interview in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a Russian daily, earlier this month.

Earlier attempts at a backyard farm ban

Mr Rondin said that at some point in the past, Russia’s authorities were considering the option of banning pig breeding at the backyard farms all over Russia, as a way of tackling the epidemic of African Swine Fever (ASF).

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Combating those efforts, at the time Mr Rondin and the organisation sent an open letter to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, informing that by destroying backyard pig farming, the government would leave thousands of families without means of existence. At that point, the government backed off and moved away from this idea, Mr Rondin said.

Without backyard farms things go better

Officials appear not to have completely abandoned the idea, as these days the idea that for total control of ASF, Russia would be better off without backyard farms in certain areas, is heard quite frequently. Spokespersons of the Russia’s veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor, as well as local government officials, have recently expressed these views.

Mr Rodin said the “corruption and a very lax attitude of regulatory bodies” are the main reason for the current ASF spread. It is not related to the existence of backyard farms, which Rosselhoznadzor do not like due to their poor veterinary safety.

According to the newspaper, lawyers have recognised that any ban on backyard farming in Russia would be illegal.

Economic tools as an alternative for pig farms

Alternatively, the government will have to turn to economic tools to get rid of backyard pig farms. Russia’s ministry of agriculture has promised to issue state support to every farmer, willing to abandon breeding pigs in favour of other animals.

There are programmes providing backyard farmers with the state support for the breeding of cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits – anything else but pigs, Rossiyskaya Gazeta stated. This measure, according to the publication, will facilitate the fight against ASF within the country, but will not be able to defeat the virus completely.

In the past, the Soviet Union managed to curb the spread of ASF twice, and the same thing could be achieved in Russia, but this will require tightening liability and control measures at the market, the article added.

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Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent