Pigs confiscation will not lead to social protests
The social consequences of the African swine fever (ASF) epidemic do not threaten the authorities. Rural residents are discontent but not organized. The epidemic’s impact on the economy is difficult to assess as yet, but most likely, pig breeding in Belarus will continue.
Only two African swine fever outbreaks have been officially confirmed in Belarus. The disease was discovered in July at the ‘Luchesa’ pig farm, which is located near Vitebsk, and at a private household in the village of Chapun, Ivie region, Grodno Oblast.
Anti-epidemic measures were carried out in all Belarusian regions, which have caused resentment among local residents. Currently, the main cause of discontent is due to the fact that within a 5 km radius from large pig breeding farms it is forbidden today to keep pigs at hog farms or privately, including by private entrepreneurs. Villagers are forced to hand over their pigs to meat-processing plants. Non-compliance with these rules entails administrative and criminal liability. The conflict is mainly about the low purchase price set by meat-processing plants. The difference between the purchase price and the pork market value is more than 200%.
In some regions, local authorities accompanied by district policemen visit private farms informing owners of the abovementioned rules. In most cases, people do not start a confrontation with the authorities and give way under pressure.
Sanitary measures have been implemented in all regions without exception. The most critical situation is in the Grodno and Vitebsk Oblasts. Official maps show the spread of swine flu in nine regions in Grodno Oblast with eight regions in the sanitary (buffer) zone. The Committee for Agriculture and Foodstuffs of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee said the entire oblast was clear of pigs. In other regions, pig-breeding has not suffered much. Some experts have said that in the future the whole pig-breeding industry could die off in Belarus, but currently the situation allows for a positive outlook due to the authorities’ efforts which aim to stabilize the situation. If tough anti-epidemic measures continue working, pig breeding will be preserved in most regions.
For reference: African swine fever (ASF) - a particularly dangerous highly contagious viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs - is characterized by its rapid spread and high mortality rate: up to 100%.