Belgian pork exports banned in 13 countries following ASF outbreaks
21st Sep 2018 / By Alistair Driver
Thirteen countries have now banned Belgian pork and pork products, following confirmation of African swine fever in the south of the country last week.
After the virus was initially found in wild boar in the Luxembourg region of Belgium, near the French border, on Friday, the total number of confirmed cases has now risen to 10, all from the same small geographical area. It is expected that more cases will be confirmed in an area that is heavily populated with wild boar
The Belgian authorities said ‘very few’ domestic pigs are kept in this region and that the risk of domestic pigs becoming infected with ASF remains ‘limited’. Sixty commercial pig farms closest to the restriction zone have been screened for ASF – all proved negative, according to an update from ForFarmers’ Andrew Knowles.
Nonetheless, a number of non-EU countries have responded by banning pork exports from Belgium for what is expected to be at least the next six months. The 13 countries to have done so are: South Korea, China, Taiwan, Belarus, Mexico, The Philippines, Japan, South Africa, Serbia, Singapore, Uruguay, Australia, and Malaysia.
As a result, it is expected that pig prices will fall in Belgium. Pigs from Belgium pigs normally slaughtered in the Netherlands will now, for a while at least, be slaughtered in Belgium.
Why isn't the UK banning Belgian pork?
There have understandably been calls from within the UK pig industry to ban pork imports from Belgium and other affected European countries (see Forum enties for Sept 14) This is not possible, however, under the EU’s ASF regulatory framework, which adopts a regionalised approach to trade.
Commenting on the forum, NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “I totally understand why some members want to see imports banned from Belgium, Romania or other countries where ASF is present. In reality, the Government has no legal power to do that.
“The EU has agreed on a regionalised approach where fresh or frozen pig meat from ASF-restricted zones cannot be sold to other EU member states, but commercially produced fresh or frozen pig meat derived from pigs raised outside the restriction zones can continue to be traded.
“While that does bring some obvious concerns, it is also worth bearing in mind that, one day, if the worst comes to the worst, we might actually be grateful for that. It could make a huge difference during an outbreak if unaffected parts of the country were still allowed to export.”
Control measures in Belgium
Various measures have been put in place, under the EU protocol for ASF outbreaks. In the infected zone, the following measures are being taken:
- Monitoring of wild boars in order to get a picture of the situation
- Limiting hunting to avoid dissemination
- Limiting human activities in forest
- Monitoring pig farms
- Complete separation of swines and wild boars
- Movements (to/from) of swines only with the authorization of the competent authority
- Increasing biosecurity
- Analysis of all sickness/death
Measures are also being enforced throughout the country to reduce the risk of spreading, including:
- A ban on assembling of pigs
- Ensuring domestic pigs avoid contact with wild boars
- Increased biosecurity for the entire sector
- Increased surveillance.