Region's swine fever plan seeks hundreds of millions from EC

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Less than a week since their agricultural ministerial summit on the veterinary health crisis threatening the region’s pork industry and wild boar populations, the Baltic states and Poland are preparing to ask the European Commission (EC) for financial support to cover the higher costs of their common fight against the spread of African swine fever (ASF). While the exact figure is yet to be determined, estimates suggest the moneys required will total in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Virginia Baltraitienė, Lithuania’s Minister of Agriculture told a press conference Tuesday that the task force created during the July 30 summit will be requesting 100% financing from the EC to cover prevention and control measures, disinfection material acquisitions, and the creation of a scientific research center that could possibly develop a vaccine against the disease, as well as co-ordinate communication work with the target population.

Like their counterparts in Latvia, pig farmers in Lithuania are concerned that compensation payments will barely cover the losses experienced from the large-scale culling of their pig herds, not to mention a year-long prohibition on keeping pigs henceforth.  Thus Baltraitienė called also for EC support on behalf of ruined small-scale pig farmers who need help diversifying their animal husbandry practices away from swine-keeping.

Nevertheless, the minister refrained from specifying a sum, relating instead last year’s request by Lithuania for aid from the EC to address the swine fever outbreak in neighboring Belarus. Of the €30m asked for, only €7m was granted, she explained.

“This means we’ll be taking about much larger amounts this time – we have to estimate in the hundreds of millions,” she said.

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