Whilst African Swine Fever (ASF) is spreading across China and penetrating Western Europe, the picture in Baltic States remains very complicated. Latvia and Lithuania had to cull in total almost 35,000 pigs.
In Lithuania the outbreak took place at Idavang farm near Akmenė, in the north of the country. It was be the biggest outbreak in the country for the past 3 years, according to the country’s State Food and Veterinary Service. In addition, it was the 2nd time for ASF to hit a production facility of Idavang. In 2014, as a result of an ASF outbreak, overall losses were up to 19,000 pigs. At this facility, in 2018, 19,500 head had to be culled.
ASF outbreak in Latvia: 15,000 pigs culled
A few days earlier, in neighbouring Latvia, ASF outbreak was confirmed at a farm called Druvas Unguri farm. Here, 15,000 pigs had to be culled, turning this outbreak into the biggest case registered in the country ever, according to the Latvian Veterinary and Food Department.
Lithuania: From pigs to rabbits
Against this background, the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are considering new measures aimed to improve the situation. The Lithuanian ministry of agriculture has proposed to farmers with a population below 100 head to simply cull all pigs and shift to breeding either turkey or rabbit production. Farmers who would agree, would then be eligible for a one-off state subsidy of € 1,500 plus € 100 per pig at the farm.
Local meat-processing companies have alarmed, however, that a further reduction in the number of pigs on farms in Lithuania could put an end to traditional national sausages. Speaking to local news outlet Delfi, Virgaudas Kanauka, director of the local meat processor Kanrugėlė said that, as rule of thumb, imported pork is not what these local processing companies are looking for. After all, they are focused on manufacturing a local product.
Latvia: Special measures needed against ASF
Latvia’s agricultural minister Jānis Dūklavs recently said that the total count in Latvia of ASF-infected wild boar stands at 720, a figure believed to be higher than in any previous year. Mr Dūklavs said that the government has been struggling against the disease for 5 years, but so far no real results have been achieved. He said that special measures must be put in place, without specifying his thoughts.
From the 3rd Baltic state, Estonia, these days not a lot of news is being reported with regard to ASF. Nevertheless, the impact of the disease on the local pig industry is also seen as tremendous. According to a recent feature on ASF in the British newspaper The Guardian, the number of pig farms in Estonia have dropped 7 times, from 920 in 2014 to only 125 in 2018.
In August, Estonia’s ministry of agriculture reported that, despite the absence of outbreaks on farms in 2018, there have been 222 wild boar found infected with the disease.