EU countries await help against swine fever; Italy now also infected

The Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament hopes to hear from the European Commission on Tuesday whether and how Brussels will support the pig industry.

European pig farmers are in one of their worst crises, but EU Commissioner Janus Wojciechowski has yet to intervene immediately. He remains convinced that the sector will find its own way out.

The European Commission, which has been warning Member States about the difficult situation for months, promised last week that Wojciechowski would present a catalog of possible measures by the end of January. Until now, however, he has ruled out the possibility of intervening with additional European subsidies. 

In recent years there has been a huge overproduction of pork in many EU countries due to the African Swine Fever and the corona pandemic, with correspondingly low prices. Overproduction has recently skyrocketed as pork exports, especially to Asian countries, largely ground to a halt again. 

During the current Omicron wave, many slaughterhouses have a significant number of staff absent due to illness or quarantine. This has created a bottleneck in terms of slaughter and cutting, creating a backlog of ready-to-slaughter animals on local farms.

The number of reports of wild boars with African Swine Fever is also increasing in the Italian region of Piedmont. The United Nations Organization for World Animal Health already speaks of 15 infected wild boars.

The infection cases extend in an area of about 300 square kilometers. Piemonte has asked the government to set aside 100 million for affected companies. At the same time, efforts are being made to demarcate the infected area.

The Italian government is now allocating 50 million to protect pig farms against the risk of infection from African swine fever. Over the weekend, hundreds of people searched the infected area for dead wild boar carcasses. Regional media are calling for a national plan to eradicate an estimated 50,000 wild boars in Piedmont each year.