Bulgaria’s African Swine Fever outbreaks: Counting the cost

The culling at three industrial pig farms in Bulgaria’s Rousse district where outbreaks of African Swine Fever were confirmed means the loss of 20 per cent of the industrially reared pigs in Bulgaria, reports on August 4 said.

Losses for Bulgaria’s pork industry are projected to run into millions of leva.

Burial of the culled pigs from the industrial farm at Nikolovo in the Rousse district, the first such farm where an outbreak of African Swine Fever, has been completed, Bulgarian National Television said. The farm had held 17 000 pigs.

In all, about 130 000 pigs at industrial farms in Bulgaria either have been culled or are to be. There have been 26 confirmed outbreaks of African Swine Fever in Bulgaria, including at five industrial farms.

Culling of 8000 pigs at a farm in the village of Vetren in the Silistra district is expected to start on August 5.

The farm in Vetren is within the monitoring zone established after the confirmation of an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the village of Popina. In the village, domestic pigs have already been killed.

Dr Georgi Chobanov of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said that the agency hoped that everyone in Bulgaria was aware of the seriousness of the problem “and that no one can handle it alone”.

He said that not only had the peak of the African Swine Fever outbreaks not been passed “we haven’t reached it yet”.

At the pig farm in the village of Golyamo Vranovo in Rousse, where the culling of 30 000 pigs is proceeding, about 180 employees are to lose their jobs.

The manager of the Golyamo Vranovo farm, Dr Milenka Dimitrova, said that the pig farm was facing bankruptcy. “Our other units will stop working for some time. If we have no animals, every person will be dismissed. The people who work at the feed plant will be reduced. That’s what awaits us.”

At Brushlen, among the places where African Swine Fever was first confirmed, owners told Bulgarian National Television that they would not give up pig farming, even though close to 40 000 pigs had been culled.

Elsewhere in the Rousse district, the only industrial pig farm where tests for African Swine Fever repeatedly have proved negative is the one at Yudelnik. Veterinary authorities have given permission for the farm to export pig meat for processing.

Starting on August 5, staff of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency in the Plovdiv district will begin checks of smallholdings in the area to establish whether people have met the August 2 deadline for the voluntary culling of their pigs.

Villages around the Plovdiv industrial zones of Rakovski, Stryama and Belozem will be checked first.

Pigs found alive will be marked and must be slaughtered within 24 hours. If they are not killed, the agency will proceed with forced confiscation and culling of the animals.

Radio Plovdiv reported on August 4 that about 100 pigs had been slaughtered in the village of Krushevo in compliance with an order from the district administration.

Mayor Radka Petkova said that there were about 130 “back yard” pigs in the village. On Friday, farmers from the village held a protest against the pigs being killed.

On August 4, a blockade of the Sliven-Yambol road in protest against the culling order entered a third day, Bulgarian National Radio said. Protest organiser Valentina Vassileva said that the blockade of the road would continue indefinitely.

A protest planned for the village of Vinarsko in the Bourgas district on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast on August 4 was cancelled, to avoid the issue being politicised, village mayor Stoiko Manev told Radio Bourgas.

On Friday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, accompanied by Agriculture Minister Dessislava Taneva, visited Pazardzhik, which was the site of protests against the culling plans. He promised compensation of 300 leva to households that had domestic pigs if they went ahead and killed them.

After Borissov’s statement, protests in parts of the country continued.

On Sunday, residents of the village of Mramor in the Sofia district protested against the order to slaughter domestic pigs in the village.

Although no outbreak of African Swine Fever has been confirmed in the district of Sofia, the village falls within the 20km sanitary area around the pig farm in Peturch. Residents of Mramor were joined by people from Kostinbrod at the protest. Both villages are within the 20km zone.

The Food Safety Agency said that those who complied with the order for the culling of the pigs would get the 300 leva compensation for disinfection of their yards. Those who did not comply would face fines and the confiscation and destruction of their pigs.

(Archive photo: Scott Bauer/USDA)



The Sofia Globe staff

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