Representatives from Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor noted that, when the disease spreads beyond the borders of Russia, the struggle against it should be carried out by internationally co-ordinated activity, involving the veterinary services of all the countries affected. At the same time, all parties should do everything possible to protect themselves from the disease, they added.
Strengthening import controls
In recent weeks, the CIS countries have established a set of prohibitions and restrictions on pork imports, due to ASF. In particular, Russia was forced to ban imports of pork and live pigs from Belarus, while Ukraine announced a tightening of controls over imports from Russia and Belarus.
“Right now, Customs officials at the border between Russia and Belarus are tightening controls over goods that can carry African swine fever pathogens. Following the identification of such goods, they are removed for destruction,” said Ukraine’s Economic Ministry in a statement.
At the same time, Belarus has banned pork imports from those regions of Russia where outbreaks of ASF have been reported. As a result, about 40% of Russia’s pork producers are losing an opportunity to supply pork to Belarus. The latest restriction – on the supply of pork from the Vladimir Oblast region – was introduced on 3 September.
Jump in prices
Due to the spread of ASF, pork prices in Russia jumped 20-25% in the last quarter, depending on the region.
“ASF affected prices in several ways,” said Maxim Basov, CEO of Russian pork producer RusAgro. “First of all, many farmers simply did not wait for official diagnosis, and started to destroy their pigs, due to fear of the infection.”
“At the same time, following the destruction of pork stocks in the Belgorod Oblast region, the volume of pork in the market was reduced.
“And finally, commentators suggest that the opening and closing of [the supply from] regions [where outbreaks have been recorded], at the request of veterinarians, is leading to an imbalance in the country’s market.”
As the result, during recent months, the average price of pork rose from RUB56/kg (US$1.67/kg) to RUB82/kg (US$2.45/kg) and is continuing to rise.
The threat to the EU
However, according to Rosselkhoznadzor’s management, the threat of ASF spreading across Europe is much more real than European farmers and veterinary services think.
Speaking at an international workshop on strengthening measures to eliminate the risk of introducing CSF and ASF to the EU, Yevgeny Nepoklonov, deputy head of Rosselkhoznadzor, said: “Right now, the disease threatens to spread across the EU via two different routes: from the north, through Belarus, the Baltic States and Poland; and south, through Ukraine, Romania and Austria.”
At the same time, according to Rosselkhoznadzor, any detection of a disease outbreak in the EU would lead to disastrous consequences for local businesses. For example in Belarus, due to a couple of outbreaks at the beginning of September, 84,000 pigs have been destroyed. According to experts, even one outbreak of ASF in the EU could mean a complete stop to pork exports.