Swine fever: agriculture ministers want to pull together

swine fever: agriculture ministers want to pull together

In the fight against african swine fever (ASF) in brandenburg, the federal and state governments must pull together, according to the chairman of the conference of agriculture ministers, reinhold jost (SPD).

"It must be clear to everyone that this is a national challenge of the very first order," said the saarland minister of agriculture on thursday at the start of the ministerial meeting in weiskirchen. You can’t afford to have disputes about responsibilities or funding, she said. "We are all responsible": federal, state, municipalities and organizations."

The ASF outbreak in brandenburg two weeks ago must be eliminated as quickly as possible, according to federal agriculture minister julia klockner (CDU). "Our goal must be to prevent the spread of the assp to other federal states and to the domestic animal population with a national joint effort and to get it out of our country again," klockner told the german press agency. To combat ASF, there is already a bund-lander crisis team, an EU team with veterinary experts on the ground, a task force at the working level – "and we are researching a vaccine in parallel," said klockner. But the federal states also had to do "their homework," she stressed. It is important for a state like brandenburg to take on a "coordinating role". Germany will be considered free of ASF at the earliest when no positive findings have been made for at least one year.

The german farmers’ and hunters’ associations demanded on thursday that "coordinated action" be taken in a central crisis unit that would control activities across state borders. The border with poland in particular must be made safe for wild boar. This includes appropriate fences around the core zone of the animal epidemic: "there is still a considerable need for action here."Hunters and farmers familiar with the area had to be more involved in the search for dead wild boar, says the declaration of the german farmers’ association (DBV) and the german hunting association (DJV). Removal of highly infectious carcasses is crucial to contain spread of ASF.

With a view to the possible economic consequences of the ASF outbreak, klockner called for a "smart, level-headed approach": "we must not talk the situation down any more than it is."Within europe, pigs could still be sold outside the restricted area – around 70 percent of the volume exported went to the european market. An important export country for german pork outside the EU, china, has imposed an import ban on german pork, however. "We are in very intense talks," said klockner. But now you have to watch the market. Possible measures include help for farmers with private storage and liquidity programs of the EU or compensation.

Price losses for pork are already clear, but the level has stabilized in the meantime. Previously, the prices were also "unusually high," said the minister. In part, however, the price drop at the beginning was too fast.

"We now have to undercut ourselves: it’s a matter of recognizing appropriate opportunities among ourselves and taking advantage of them," jost said. "We also have to talk about whether and to what extent, due to the national scope, national financing of fixed fences" along the border currently with poland and possibly later with other countries is also possible, said jost. The animal disease has now been detected in 32 dead wild boars in brandenburg.

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