As EPP / Pig farmers we are already involved since the first outbreak years ago. Till last week it enters our nearby region it seems the rest of world is awakening. This could help us to control the challenge, and we should take that opportunity with both hands. As Pig farmers it hits us very hard and every country will have his own problems and challenges. The outbreak can have a huge effect in the leading pig producing countries. In the first place on animal welfare, politics and economics, but we should not forget the impact on the farmers and their families who get involved in an outbreak on their farm. Even so markets will be unpredictable and international trade will become very complicated.
The situation in Belgium is still frightening and only in wild boars. This is the first element that we should handle and wild boars on places where they are not allowed is maybe one of the worst and difficult. We need the help of national and local politics in the countries were this is out of control. Only hunting is not enough!
Especially in border regions it’s important that countries work together and cooperate in their challenge to fight ASF and their consequences. Second is the role of human and specific of human who do not understand the risks and the impact of their behavior can have. This means travelers, (animal) truckdrivers , international hunters etc. Third are the pig farmers themselves. If all of us stay in control of all the contacts we have, we can minimize the risk. This means that we also have to look at our own management on our farm and see if there are changes need for the short time now the risks and impact has changed.
Our own role:
Biosecurity. Till now we have to take care of all the direct contacts we have, with all the elements that can be a risk to spread ASF. It’s very important to stay informed to the national and local information channels. News is changing by the hour.
Maybe is the most important that we stay calm and informing each other the way we prefer to be informed. This means transparency of our situation even if this means extra measures or restrictions for the short time. There will be differences between countries, and in some countries it will have more impact than in the others. ASF became an international crises that should be handled professional together with European farmers, politics and everyone involved.
Gert van Beek, President of the European Pig Producers (EPP) e.V.