The Romanian authorities request the support of the European Commission in countering the effects of the African swine fever epidemic.
The African swine fever virus has been reported in over 200 localities in 12 Romanian counties. There are around 900 outbreaks, most of them in the south-east. The virus is also present in 3 counties in the north-west, where it was first confirmed a year ago. The disease cannot be cured and it requires the culling of all the animals in the affected households and farms. Hundreds of thousands of pigs have already been slaughtered. And although the disease cannot be transmitted to humans, its economic and social impact is already felt. In many small households, pig breeding is a means of subsistence. On the other hand, hundreds of people working for major farms and slaughterhouses have been fired. As a compensation measure, the Government decided that the workers laid out should receive, apart from the unemployment benefits, an amount of roughly 100 euros, tax-free, for maximum 6 months.
The Government has in fact requested financial support from the European Commission to mitigate the impact that the African swine fever epidemic has on the Romanian agriculture. The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, Thursday had talks in this respect with PM Viorica Dancila and the line minister Petre Daea. According to the data presented by Commissioner Hogan, three-quarters of the pigs raised in EU households are actually found in Romania. This is why Bucharest and Brussels are working together to see what must be done in terms of monitoring, detection and control services, Phil Hogan said.
Halting production because of the swine fever control programme, triggers substantial economic losses, and Bucharest will apply for EU aid for the farms affected by the epidemic. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister Petre Daea announced that Romania and neighbouring Bulgaria, which is also affected by this epidemic, are considering the set up of a swine fever research centre. The institution will be designed to research the causes of the disease and to come up with solutions so as to successfully eradicate it at lower costs.
On the other hand, the Romanian Intelligence Service said it had informed the relevant central and local authorities about the prospective emergence of the virus as far back as in June 2016. Since then and up until August this year, the Service has issued over 130 memos on this topic. The Romanian Intelligence Service has also warned against another virus that may appear in Romania, namely one that affects smaller ruminants. The revelations provide additional arguments to those who slammed the Government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for its handling of the African swine fever crisis, with President Iohannis and the right-of-centre Opposition among the fiercest critics.