The deputy head of Rosselkhoznador, the Russian veterinary authority, Nikolai Vlasov (pictured), has launched a blistering attack against the leaders of the Krasnodar authorities after they announced plans to restock pig farms in the region devastated by African swine fever.
The first deputy chairman of the Krasnodar legislative assembly and the chairman of the committee on Agrarian Policy and the Consumer Market, Ivan Mikhail Petrenko, has put forward proposals to restock the pig herd in the region by 2016-2017.
“Two years ago because of African swine fever we lost a big part of the pig population,” he said.
“Out of 1.5 million pigs only 280,000 were left.”
He added that if it had not been for the success of poultry production in the area, farming in the region would have been in a “difficult situation”.
The report of his statement says he said that Rosselkhoznador had been opposed to pigs being held in the private sector and he disagreed with the veterinary authority that small farms were a source of African swine fever.
He said that by destroying 460,000 pigs in the private sector the population in the area lost an estimated 15 billion rubles in income.
At present the region has a pig population of around 400,000, and Mr Petrenko said that between 13 and 15 major pig farms are preparing to start restocking.
He said that they had already brought in 84,000 pigs into the region and the plan was to increase the number to 700,000 by next year and by 2016-2017 to have restored the pig population.
However, Mr Vlasov said that on the surface the statement appears to be good news, as it appears that the plans to restock the pig herd mean that the authorities in Krasnodar have learned a harsh lesson from the heavy losses they have suffered from a dangerous disease.
He said it appears that they have learned how to raise pigs safely and understand how to protect themselves from African swine fever.
“Normally we do not comment on public statements by politicians,” Mr Vlasov said.
“But sometimes it is necessary, unfortunately, to make exceptions.”
He said that the assertion that African swine fever did not appear on small farms was a “wonderful argument”.
Mr Vlasov said the real experience of many countries, including Europe and Latin America, shows that when pigs on back yard farms are in danger of disease, the disease cannot be eradicated.
He said that the real experience in Krasnodar as in the rest of Russia was that in an African swine fever zone the loss of pigs was first experienced on these small farms and then on the larger farms because they are better protected, particularly from the human element, where the disease can be introduced through poor sanitary arrangement – hand washing and shoes.
Mr Vlasov cited the experience of the pig farming population in North Ossetia, which lost most of its pig population and started the spread of the disease in the Caucasus and where the large Kirov Pig Farm with 6,000 head was the only example of successfully fighting the disease.
He said there was a similar experience in the Tver region, where the start of the spread of the disease in May 2011 was from a number of incidents including three flash points on back yard farms.
He said the accusation that Rosselkhoznador was against private sector farms was “sinister” coming from someone who “is not a veterinarian and not an employee of Rosselkhoznador and therefore not familiar with the subject”.
He described the attack on the federal veterinary services and Rosselkhoznador as “insidious”.
Mr Vlasov said the outbreak of African swine fever in Krasnodar had started in 2008 with a case in wild boar, at a time when 537,000 pigs out of the herd of 1.464 million were held on small farms.
He said there were a further four cases in 2009 in wild boar and one case on a back yard farm and the incidents spread particularly on back yard and open farms until in 2013 it was decided to ban open pig farms.
“The solution was not simple, but was adequate in the situation at the time. The result was seen in the next year,” said Mr Vlasov.
He said that in 2014 there were no cases in domestic pigs and in this year there has been one incident on a peasant farm and four cases in domestic pigs.
Mr Vlasov said it is obvious that the disease comes from smallholdings, but the brunt of the losses are on large farms.
He said that this hits not only pork production but also tax revenues.
He added that the sentiment of restocking was a good one, but if it goes ahead now it will just result in the death of the new livestock and the African swine fever situation will be the same as before spreading on the large complexes, through the forests and on small holdings.
“After all the situation is quite simple,” he said.
“If we want to go back to the traditional management of pig farms in the Caucasus, in the Krasnodar region, we need to return to the traditional epizootic prevention measures.
“Eradicate African swine fever in the region and nothing else.”
He said the way forward was to continue the prevention measures in the region and to develop industrial pig farming by creating new farms with high sanitary protection.
He said the small holders need to develop in other directions in poultry and cattle.
But he said that it was important “not to mislead the people” and give them the impression that they can simply go back to their old ways of working.
He said that the proposals from the Krasnodar authorities were political point scoring and he said that if they went ahead they would end up again with fires in the countryside burning carcases of pigs.
“This is a road to nowhere,” Mr Vlasov said.
And he concluded that he hoped that the words of Mr Petrenko had been “misunderstood and wrongly presented”.