Minister vows aid to swine farmers damaged by African fever

Georgi Beltadze
, reporter
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Photo: Eero Vabamägi / Postimees

Rural life minister Urmas Kruuse (Reform) says EU and Estonia will support pig farmers unable to sell pork being part of third restriction area related to African swine fever, but only when price thereof falls by over 30 percent.

- What were the state and pig farmers discussing at the meeting, yesterday, and how will both parties face the crisis?  

We both admitted we will have to meet again a week from now, to review the perspective once again.

The trouble is that in two weeks to a month the European Commission will decide regarding the size of the area where the so-called restriction zone or third zone be proclaimed.

That will mean that economic activity of enterprises within the zone will undergo certain restrictions.

Export i.e. sales of live pigs from said zone is excluded. Talking about pork products, these will necessarily have to have been heated to 80 degrees Celsius. For an entrepreneur, that may mean severe restrictions.

- How does the state intend to help the enterprises in this case?

Our activities have been divided into several stages. The first stage was that in the farm where the swine were eliminated, the animals were compensated.

Now, when due to restrictions imposed pork price in the area will sink by 30 percent, let’s say, that will definitely be the line from which we may have recourse to European Commission and apply for aid for the price difference caused by the plague.

Here, the obligations will be half and half between EU and Estonia.

- Has the pork sold from the infected farms before the plague was discovered been found by now, and what will be its fate?

Veterinary and Food Board is dealing with the problem and the information will be broadly analysed.

The overall rule is that pork from enterprises near the infected farm must be marked and may be sold. But the farm where the fever was discovered has been totally destroyed by now. So not a chunk will go for sale from there.

- The quarantine of swine was established in Estonia a while ago, since last year the fever was discovered in Latvia. Since it did not help, what will the additional measures be? And what may have been the precise cause of the spread?

Too early to tell, the board is dealing with analysis. As the info comes in, we will be able to specify.

At that, the human factor may have played a small role, and it may not be found out. Perhaps a pig farmer may know he did perhaps commit a mistake when entering the farm, but he may not tell us about it.

All such information is important, however, in order to be able to boost the measures if needed.

- Why has Estonia not opted for the Latvian way – hunting the fever infected wild swine?

Well actually the hunting rules are known here and that’s what the hunters are going by. We have enjoyed good cooperation with the hunters, even when talking about eliminating the infected wild swine and their corpses.

At the meeting here, the question was asked whether the wild swine population has grown too large. Some think it has.

Meanwhile, let’s not be under the illusion that by eliminating all wild swine the problem is over, as, regrettably, we will have to admit it will probably not happen because these game freely roam about from country to country crossing the borders. Thus, should we be able at some point to eliminate them all, that will not mean wild swine from other countries will not venture into Estonia.