"I don’t have any impact on the free movement of pork meat and pig meat from the territories that are free of ASF. But it is not acceptable that the pigs that are bred by Polish farmers are overfed, and pigs from the red zone, from our neighbour, are imported to Poland," Ardanowski said in a statement.
Shortly following his announcement, the minister decided to dismiss Krzysztof Jażdżewski, the deputy head of the General Veterinary Inspectorate (GVI). Jażdżewski was responsible for animal health, relations with the European Union and international cooperation. Under Polish law, livestock imports from infected zones must be approved by the GVI.
On 29 November, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released an updated report on the epidemiological situation of ASF in Europe. Between 24 January 2014 and 31 October 2018, 210 ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs in Poland were notified to the Animal Disease Notification System, and 118 such outbreaks were notified in Lithuania, according to data obtained by the EFSA.
"In 2018, the number of cases in wild boar grew continuously, allowing ASF to occupy new areas of Lithuania and slowly move to the west, to the Baltic," according to the report.
Lithuania to challenge Polish ban
Ardanowski has communicated this decision to his Lithuanian counterpart, Giedrius Surplys, who said he did not agree with the Polish ministry’s stance and would challenge it in Brussels.
Surplys "questioned this decision, claiming it is in violation with the binding regulations in the European Union," the Polish ministry said in a statement. "The Lithuanian minister has announced he will forward this case to the European Commission."
The spread of ASF has impacted on Polish meat exports over the past years. Last October, the US Department of Agriculture made a decision to suspend pork meat imports from Poland after the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) voiced concern over the locations of the meat processing facilities of some Poland-based businesses authorised to sell their products to the US market.
Poland protested against the ban, claiming that the facilities were located within the zones that are not covered by the formal restrictions imposed in relation to the spread of ASF.
In late October, Ardanowski announced that an agreement was reached with the US authorities and the ban would be lifted, allowing 16 Polish facilities to resume exports to this market, while a further three meat industry players would be allowed to export fully cooked pork meat products.
In addition to his government post, the Polish minister serves as an MP for the country’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.