Germany to kill 4000 pigs after African swine fever outbreak

Pig looks scared in a device
A pig right before he's stunned and killed in Germany, November 17, 2021, photo: DPA / Picture Alliance via Reuters

African swine fever (ASF) was discovered on a pig farm on Monday in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Authorities ordered to kill all the animals at the farm and around it, in total more than 4000 pigs.

Pigs are stunned with electricity in a device before their bodies are destroyed. The German government is concerned that China will not lift the ban on their pig meat after this ASF outbreak.

China and other buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first ASF case was confirmed in wild boars in east Germany along the border with Poland. 

Germany wants China to accept the “regionalisation concept”, which stops pork imports only from the region where ASF has been found instead of a ban on sales from the whole country.

“Talks with China and other Asian importers about lifting their import bans on German pork will be made more difficult by the case on a farm again,” Tim Koch, meat analyst at German market consultancy AMI, told Reuters. He thinks it will be years before China will buy pig meat from Germany again. 

Germany used to be the biggest EU pig meat producer, but recently Spain became the top producer of pig meat in the European Union. Spain’s biggest client is China.

ASF is an infectious viral disease in wild and farm pigs. The illness can result in death, but animals can also recover from it. Governments worldwide kill entire pig populations when ASF is discovered. After its own ASF outbreak, where more than 100 million pigs were killed, China’s desire for pig meat from other countries increased.

Tönnies, Germany’s largest slaughterhouse, is building a pig slaughterhouse in Spain. The slaughterhouse will open in 2023, and the company will kill 10,000 pigs per day.

The report Food system impacts on biodiversity loss explained how industrial animal farming destroys nature and contributes to species extinction. The paper had three recommendations for policymakers: promote plant-based diets, set aside farmland for nature and shift to organic and sustainable farming with respect for nature and animals. 

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