Editorial: pigs dying, folks crying

Piglets staring into camera.

PHOTO: SCANPIX

Pity the pig farmers stricken by the plague. For a moment, let's restrain the epistles about what cold have been done better prevention wise. The fever is such a sad thing to happen... economically and emotionally, to owners and employees. As well as a warning to others.

«Quite a blow, emotionally,» a farmer confessed to Postimees. «Depends on the nerves... we have mostly women tending the swine, and they see what is happening right now. Tears are the order of the day.»

Even so, one wonders why the stricter measures were so late being applied. As told us by University of Life Sciences veterinary epidemiology professor Arvo Viltrop: they foresaw the swine fever reaching farms of over thousand pigs and have detected failures to adhere to biological safety rules. He counts is a small miracle that the fever only hit such farms now, considering that the initial wild victims were found in woods of Estonia already last fall.  

The strict measures now implemented are to prevent a full-blown epidemic, such as would fell the entire branch of agriculture. The chain reaction would go from farms to fodder producers to local governments missing tax revenues and under pressure to pay increased amounts social benefits. «All it takes is one pig and some aunt Sally to wipe away hundreds and hundreds of jobs,» big pig farm parent company HKScan chief Teet Soorm blurted to Postimees this week.

Indeed, measures of biological safety are to keep unauthorised persons off pig farms and seeing that the infection be not brought in by clothes or boots. Hearing the descriptions, short-term the pig farming will look like hi-tech military industry: fences, guards, change of garments before one enters.

And this may be for decades. As told Postimees by Professor Arvo Viltrop: in Sardinia, Italy, African swine fever was discovered as early as 1950ies and it is yet to disappear from nature. Though they are talking of mass hunting of the wild swine, don’t think this is the final solution.

This is death blow to traditional keeping of pigs for own family at farms, as the safety requirements will serve to make it dearer yet, and an awful bother. The more so that the idea was to have the hogs outside, which will now be banned.

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