|Function:||Secretary of State|
|Company:||The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development|
Farmers have started submitting applications for compensation due to African swine fever (ASF), which has already caused multi-million losses
The maximum reduction of boar populations to avoid the ASF spreading, the protection from secondary infections within Polish borders and the biosafety of Polish agricultural holdings are the priorities in fighting down the ASF, commonly referred to as Asfivirus. The 108th epidemic focus was identified by the end of February. Some of the farmers sustaining production losses due to ASF have already submitted applications for financial compensation.
“Following two-year negotiations, we have managed to convince the EC to adopt the Polish assistance programme, financed entirely from national resources, and compensating the production losses sustained by agricultural holdings operating in the ASF-affected areas. The relevant Ordinance of the Council of Ministers entered into force in January, and some applications have already been submitted. These can be filed on a quarterly basis. Therefore, one of the major problems experienced by farmers has been solved. “We struggled with it for two years, launching an extraordinary aid system or one-off assistance mechanisms,” said Jacek Bogucki, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, interviewed by the Newseria Press Agency.
The outburst of African swine fever (ASF) in Poland dates back to the early 2014. Since then the incidence of this disease among boars has reached over 1.6 thousand, with 108 foci identified among pigs. Attempts at fighting down the virus have cost the national economy over PLN 140 million. As reported by the Chief Veterinary Inspectorate, ASF has caused substantial economic losses in the meat and breeding industries, resulting from pig deaths, epidemic focus elimination costs, and the discontinuation of trade and exports of pigs, pork and pork products.
Since February the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture has collected applications for financial assistance granted to pig producers operating in the ASF-affected areas.
“Another issue is launching assistance to farmers all over the country willing to introduce the principles of biosafety or to temporarily discontinue pigs breeding. We have applied for such support to the European Commission, and a draft resolution is already being discussed on an inter-ministerial level,” Jacek Bogucki said.
The special-purpose Act signed by President Andrzej Duda in December 2017 was also aimed at fostering a more efficient fight against ASF. It provides, inter alia, for slaughtering caught boars and constructing a fence along Poland's eastern border to prevent animal migrations and ASF spreading.
“So far, international boar migrations have been the reason for ASF epidemic in five out of six affected areas, which has been verified and proven. In one of the primary infection areas, where the first epidemic focus appeared in 2014, namely in the Sokółka District (the Podlaskie Province), we had not registered any disease incidence among boars or pigs for a year and a half. Unfortunately, this year the disease reappeared, close to the border, having apparently resulted from animal migrations,” Jacek Bogucki said.
The Secretary of State stressed that the Ministry has closely monitored attempts made by Czechs, who fenced off the forest areas where ASF was identified.
“We hope this method will prove useful and provide evidence that fencing our border has been a sensible idea, which can be employed in the event of further epidemic focuses identified in non-urbanised areas. This is not an option in some areas, e.g. around Warsaw, where the only solution is reducing the boar population,” Bogucki explained.
The Secretary of State also claimed that if the fence had been erected 4-5 years ago, African swine fever would no longer pose any problem to Polish breeders and economy. However, at the moment the priorities in fighting down the ASF are the maximum reduction of boar populations to avoid the ASF spreading, protection from secondary infections within Polish borders and the biosafety of Polish agricultural holdings.
“Measures taken by national border services are another major issue, as they do not allow any potentially infected food to enter the country, thus preventing the virus from spreading to various regions of Poland. This is a huge challenge as no European country has managed to fight down ASF in a short time. In Poland – despite its continuously spreading to new areas – the disease progresses at a much slower rate than in other countries,” Jacek Bogucki said.
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