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The Minister of Agriculture Ivari Padar replied to the interpellation concerning the state’s handling of the spread of African swine fever (No 429), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Siret Kotka, Heimar Lenk, Lauri Laasi, Enn Eesmaa, Eldar Efendijev, Priit Toobal, Urbo Vaarmann, Mihhail Korb and Viktor Vassiljev on 10 September.

The interpellators wished to know what the current situation is and what farmers may expect if the fever should suddenly break out in Estonian pig farms. 

Padar explained that, in connection with the spread of African swine fever from the neighbouring countries, preventive measures had been established by directives of the Veterinary and Food Board already starting from 2011. For example, the prohibition on import of thermally unprocessed feedstuffs, baggage check of all passengers arriving from third countries on the border to detect prohibited meat and meat products, etc., to curb the spread of the infection. “These requirements have been updated, for example, the prohibition that domestic swine and wild boar kept in farms may not be kept outside,” Padar noted. He added that the informing of people through various media channels has been going on almost daily since spring 2004. In August, the Ministry of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Veterinary and Food Board, opened a special website seakatk.ee which is updated constantly and which has also been translated into Russian. It assembles wide-ranging information on African swine fever broken down by target groups. Press releases on the development of the situation are forwarded constantly, and, in addition, questions and information concerning suspect animals can be left on the tip line of the Veterinary and Food Board. 

Heimar Lenk who spoke on behalf of the interpellators noted that pig breeders who breed one or two pigs and who have not registered their pigs officially may be the most potential spreaders of the fever. When such farmers happen to sell from under the counter the meat of pigs infected with the fever and not checked by veterinarians they boost the spread of the fever and the state cannot control their activities. He wished to know how the state was going to monitor and manage such activities. 

Padar said that by today disease cases in Estonia have been confirmed in wild boar in Valgamaa, Viljandimaa and Ida-Virumaa. African swine fever has not been detected in domestic swine and wild boar bred in farms. The veterinary supervision officials of the Veterinary and Food Board, with the help of authorised veterinarians, have visited all known animal keepers engaged in breeding pigs, checked compliance with biosafety, given advice and distributed relevant publications both in Estonian and in Russian. 

Padar said that, in order to monitor and assess the compliance with biosafety measures by pig breeders, transporters of animals and processors, the Veterinary and Food Board has greatly increased the number of visits to such enterprises and private households. The Minister noted that only animal keepers who comply with requirements can receive the potential compensation. “The ignoring of disease control measures will result in liability under the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act,” Padar said. He added that since at present the virus is circulating in wild boar, the meat of wild boar is the most prominent risk. In cooperation with hunters, a possible solution has been reached where the Veterinary and Food Board enters a notation on the hunting permit concerning all shot wild boars to the effect that the animal has been examined and therefore it can be used, Padar noted. 

The Minister of Agriculture also replied to the interpellation concerning the dairy sector of Estonia (No 431). 

During the open microphone, Heimar Lenk, Viktor Vassiljev, Mihhail Stalnuhhin and Kalev Kallo took the floor. 

The Riigikogu Press Service