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African swine fever threatens entire Russian pig industry

By Vladislav Vorotnikov , 17-Jul-2014

Rosselhoznadzor plans to destroy 25,000 pigs due to the threat of African swine fever
Rosselhoznadzor plans to destroy 25,000 pigs due to the threat of African swine fever

Outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) at the Velikoluksky meat processing plant in Pskov Oblast are threatening to become the largest registered in Russia this year.

Specialists from the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor plan to destroy around 25,000 pigs, but this figure may jump in the coming weeks with around one million pigs across the business.

"There are from 23,000 to 27,000 heads of animal that have been taken from the production premises and have been culled or will be culled in the near future," said deputy head of Rosselhoznadzor Nikolay Vlasov.

The outbreak has resulted in a quarantine that operates in eight districts of the Pskov Oblast. According to preliminary information, the disease has been reported at two of the company’s farms.

"On these farms, restrictions have been put in place [on the sale or transportation of pork products] and the pigs from the enterprise will not be supplied anywhere," said Vlasov.

Sergei Dankvert, head of the Rosselhoznadzor, said the ASF problem would affect the entire Russian pork market with vets already restricting pork sales in other regions.

"Rosselhoznadzor suspended the sale of some batches of meat and finished products in Orel, Kursk and Novgorod Oblasts," he said.

"All suspended-for-sale products will be tested for contaminated material." Dankvert noted that it was possible to identify products suspected of ASF contamination thanks to Russia’s single system of traceability. "In contrast to our European colleagues, we have more stringent standards of traceability of products," he said.

At the same time, the head of the Russian veterinary department said that it would create a special group, which would investigate the outbreak and how ASF affected such a large business.

Experts in the Russian pig industry claimed that despite a decrease in the number of outbreaks of ASF in 2014, the disease continues to affect the profitability and investment attractiveness of the industry.

"ASF hurts the Russian pork industry - many investors fear the spread of the disease and do not invest in the launching or expanding of production capacities, especially in the south of the country, in Krasnodar and Rostov region," said head of the Russian Meat Union Musheg Mamikonyan.

"If direct damage from the slaughter of pigs due to ASF for a particular company is easy to calculate, than the consequential damages for Russian pig industry is impossible to estimate in money terms."

According to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, direct damage to the Russian pig industry from the spread of ASF has already exceeded US$1.5bn.

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