If African swine fever in wild boars or in pig production reached Denmark, all exports to third countries would close, significantly impacting the country’s trade which is worth DKK11 billion annually.
Jens Munk Ebbesen, area director for food and veterinary affairs in agriculture & food, explained the seriousness of the situation. “It will hit us extremely hard. In the first three months alone, we are talking about billions of lost exports. And it does not stop there. It may take a long time before all countries again open up to Danish pig meat and, in the meantime, we risk losing significant market shares. We are talking about major losses for the industry, with significant consequences for the country’s overall economy.”
It would require a new law to establish a fence of almost 70km along the Danish-German border The fence is established on land. It is expected that the fence will be 1.5 metres high and extend approx. 50cm down into the ground. Passengers or gates are set at the crossroads crossing the Danish-German border, and road traffic across the border can continue to occur unobstructed in accordance with the Schengen rules. Relevant landowners are to be contacted directly by the Danish Farmers Agency.
The initiatives were praised by Danish Crown CEO Jais Valeur: “Unfortunately, African swine fever is a real threat to all Danish pig production. And it may seem violent with a fence along the border, but almost nothing can be done to save Denmark against a disease that the animals will suffer from. Therefore, we are very pleased with the Ministry of Environment and Food Administration’s comprehensive initiatives to protect Danish pig meat exports and, in particular, the thousands of jobs in Danish slaughterhouses.”
Other measures include increasing the fine for violations which could lead to African swine fever arriving in Denmark, such as insufficient cleaning of animal transport, illegal imports of food or illegal food waste feeding. There will also be an intensified effort to push down and catch wild boar in traps in regions such as Sønderjylland.
“We must do what we can to give hunters a good starting point for eradicating the wild boar and thus preventing African swine fever. We have already allowed them to shoot wild boar all day – now we are following up with a wild boar fence to make the effort effective. At the same time, it is crucial that we protect our pig exports, which bring significant revenues to Denmark,” said food and agriculture rapporteur Carsten Bach (LA).
Environment and food minister Esben Lunde Larsen added: “I do not want to run any risk. It is a billion-dollar trade of DKK11 billion annually. In the case of outbreaks of African swine fever in Denmark, all exports to third countries will immediately close. A fence will both hold any infected wild boar from crossing the border and make efforts to eradicate the wild boar in Denmark easier for hunters.”
An information campaign has been launched, aimed at pig farmers and hobby farmers, about the risks of African swine fever. In addition, a campaign has been launched to verify that carriers comply with the rules for cleaning and disinfecting trucks after transport of cloven-hoofed animals.