Editorial: hogs worth fighting for

Eesti Siga

PHOTO: Pm

Pity the pig farmers: in the heat of the summer, chilly winds are howling from the south. Last week already, a dread epidemic – the African pig plague – had made it to Northern Latvia, nearing Estonian borderline. Alas, despite all measures taken and planned there’s small chance we will escape untouched.

This, not even the pig raisers expect. Even so, the farmers, the state and the local governments better do their very best to hinder or restrict the upcoming plague. And avoid it wherever possible.

Though African in origin, the plague has been around for a few years: from Ukraine to Belarus, then to Lithuania and on into Latvia. Probably, it’s only a matter of (a relatively short) time ere the initial infected wild swine is spotted in Estonia.

Now, a lot depends on those daily in touch with pig-raising as they know best what steps to take. And the steps cannot be taken lightly. Important here to follow the guidance provided by Food and Veterinary Board, as, in threat assessment, the powers need to look further than a single farm or local government.

For the epidemic no vaccine exists, nor cure. It can only be restricted in its spread – which will mean killing pigs on outbreak sites. No easy way out.

Estonia has its first restrictions in place. In border areas, domestic pigs may not be kept in open air. To the outbreak site spotted in Latvia, a buffer zone has been imposed. Into it, live pigs may be freely taken. To take them out, there are special requirements. Perhaps, we will soon hear of other limits as well. For the pig farmers untouched by the plague, this may mean an awful lot of bother.

Once the plague arrives, our pigs may face import ban into other lands – a heavy blow on exporters. In Estonia, we have large farms with thousands of pigs. For these, the plague would equal substantial financial setbacks. Estonian state may indeed do some compensating, but that would be a drop in the ocean to the actual damage.

Therefore, let’s all take the plague hazard seriously. If restrictions are imposed, we better obey. For us common men – probably better to abstain from all pig farm tourism, restricted or not. For the consumer as well, the situation may mean a measure of confusion... Estonia has already managed to impose and lift import ban on Lithuanian pork.

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