Commodity Watch - Disease threat to EU Pig Industry

Saturday, 10 May, 2014

Commodity Watch - Disease threat to EU pig industry 

The UFU are concerned regarding the serious disease risk from African Swine Fever (ASF) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus which is posed to the pig industry here.

ASF has been confirmed in both Lithuania and Poland, while the virulent strain of PEDv continues to spread across the United States and Canada.

Although harmless to humans, PEDv is known to cause up to 100% mortality in the farrowing house, having a devastating impact on farms.  Since first reported last May over 6000 pig farms in the US have now tested positive for PEDv across 30 states, with an estimated total mortality of seven million pigs.  The US is now requiring that cases be notified and have  introduced new rules to track pig movements and vehicles leaving infected premises, in an attempt to identify gaps in biosecurity and to stop the spread of the disease.

It is thought that the EU imports approximately 250 live pigs from the US and 650 pigs from Canada each year, and therefore the UFU and other Members of COPA have been made for the EU to introduce measures to reduce the risk of importing the virus. The EU Commission have written to Washington to clarify the measures in place to avoid the virus entering the EU through infected commodities and blood products such as dried plasma protein for weanling piglets.

Meanwhile the EU have also challenged Russia in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after Russia closed its market to EU pig-meat based on four isolated cases of ASF detected in wild boar at the Lithuanian and Polish borders with Belarus. This trade ban, which is equivalent to 25% of EU exports, has exposed the EU farming sector to significant losses, resulting in an EU/National co-funded compensation package for Lithuanian and Polish farmers in areas hit by a drop in sales after the detection of ASF.

The EU has raised this disproportionate ban at World Trade Organisation (WTO), which goes against WTO rules.  The EU has been trying to negotiate with Russia, proposing a regionalisation approach which would allow pork exports from unaffected areas, also the Commission moved quickly to put in place a series of control measures to contain the virus, which is thought to have come from Russia in the first place! However negotiations so far have been unsuccessful. Russia has continued to accept imports from Belarus and, until recently the Ukraine, despite notified cases of ASF in these countries. Therefore by refusing imports from EU regions which are unaffected by the disease, Russia would seem to be applying double standards.   If consultations do not reach a satisfactory solution within 60 days, the EU may request the WTO set up a panel to rule on the legality of Russia’s measures.

Chairman of the UFU Pork and Bacon Committee Ivor Ferguson travelled to Brussels this week to attend COPA and Commission meetings where both diseases sat high on the agenda.  The UFU Pork and Bacon Committee are to meet later this month to discuss relevant necessary action.  Current advice would be to review biosecurity to protect herds against both PEDv and ASF, and to be extremely vigilant, particularly around imports of pigs and pork products.