Provisions on the establishment of African Swine Fever (ASF) risk areas

Provisions on the establishment of African Swine Fever (ASF) risk areas

The national precautionary measures taken by Poland, consisting in the demarcation of a protection and surveillance zone for an outbreak of ASF, are sufficient to prevent the spread of the disease. From an epizootic point of view, the designation of long-standing risk areas (blue zones) is not justified, as it is easier to control an outbreak of ASF than to prevent one from being spread by wild animals (boars). Furthermore, the trade in pigs takes place under the full control of the Veterinary Inspectorate, and it cannot take place without health certificates being issued in various ways. However, the movement of wild boars is not subject to human control. Why, then, should there be greater rigour in the blue zone than in the red zone?

In the Blue Zone, farmers whose farms have not been affected by an outbreak are suffering huge losses – primarily because it is impossible for them to dispose of their livestock, but also because of the obligation to sell pigs only to designated slaughterhouses, resulting in monopolistic practices, i.e. the lowering of the purchase price of pigs to far below break-even level.

Farmers rearing livestock in the Blue Zone do not receive any state support, and maintaining a Blue Zone for more than a year after an outbreak (although in 2018 it was removed after three months) is incomprehensible and damaging.

On 08 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Jarosław Kalinowski, Krzysztof Hetman and of the Group of the European People’s Party, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEPs enquired “does the Commission envisage amending the rules in such a way as to allow ‘clean’ farms in the Blue Zone to continue producing pork?”

On 25 November, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission. She responded that “the inclusion or removal of areas from Parts I, II, III and IV of the annex to Decision 2014/709/EU depends on the level of risk arising from the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in those areas”.

Commissioner Kyriakides explained that “these risks are assessed in particular on the basis of the information provided by the concerned Member State, including on biosecurity in establishments keeping domestic pigs, scientifically based principles, criteria for regionalisation; and the overall epidemiological situation of ASF in that Member State and neighbouring countries when relevant”. She further added, “any decisions in relation to EU regionalisation measures are discussed with and endorsed by the Member States at the meetings of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed”.

In her closing, the Health and Food Safety Commissioner concluded that “the numerous measures taken under the approach described above have been successful in containing the spread of ASF, thus keeping most of the EU free from the disease” and “the Commission will continue to follow it”.

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