August 7, 2019
Bulgaria to cull 8,253 pigs after sixth farm struck by African swine fever
Bulgaria will put down 8,253 pigs following an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak at the sixth industrial farm in the country to be struck by the virus, its veterinary authorities announced on August 2.
The latest incident occurred at a breeding farm in the northeast of Bulgaria, with ASF detected at a farm in the village of Vetren, near the Danube town of Silistra. So far, more than 120,000 pigs had died at five other farms over the past weeks.
Bulgaria could potentially witness a total decimation of its entire pig breeding sector and have 600,000 pigs culled due to ASF, experts warned. The country had already confirmed 30 ASF outbreaks at local industrial and backyard farms.
In response, 20-kilometer sanitary zones were established around all registered industrial pig farms. Authorities also ordered the culling of home-raised pigs in these areas.
These moves were, however, opposed by protesters in several parts of southern Bulgaria, who argued that there were no ASF outbreaks in their regions. 31 mayors in the southern Pazardzhik district also said in a joint statement that they will not permit the culling to proceed.
Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva extended the deadline for culling in the area from August 2 to August 11.
Local industrial pig companies, on the other hand, want a countrywide emergency to be declared. Industrial pig producers, backed by representatives of the meat production, meat processing and grain producing sectors, urged stronger measures to control the ASF spread due to the likelihood of significant economic losses.
Meanwhile, industry officials fear the virus could cause damages of up to лв.2 billion (US$1.1 billion).
In addition, analysts said the price of pork in Bulgaria has spiked by up to 30% in less than a month because of the outbreaks and could rise by a further 15% in the autumn.