Council tightens pig feed regulations

MESSAGE NOT HEARD?:Visitors have generally stopped trying to illegally import meat since fines were increased, except those from China, a COA official has said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jan 07, 2019 - Page 1

Hog farms not regulated by environmental authorities must stop using leftovers as pig feed within a week, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, adding that samples of another three pork products from China have tested positive for African swine fever after being seized by customs officials.

The council on Saturday said that it would not immediately ban the use of leftovers at all hog farms, but at yesterday’s third meeting of the Central Emergency Operation Center — which oversees measures to control the disease — said that it would restrict such operations.

Only farms on an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) regulatory list would be allowed to continue feeding pigs leftovers, COA Acting Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said, adding that 357 farms were on the list.

The 1,155 hog farms that use leftovers but are not on the list must switch to commercial fodder, cease operations within a week or get EPA approval to use leftovers, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.

Farms have to pass reviews of disinfection procedures for leftovers, as well as air and water pollution control facilities, before they can be placed on the list, EPA Bureau of Environmental Inspection Deputy Inspector-General Lin Jso-hsiang (林左祥) said, but adding that it is more difficult for smaller farms to pass the reviews.

The nation has about 7,230 hog farms and those using leftovers are mostly small-scale farms, Department of Animal Industry Deputy Director Wang Chung-shu (王忠恕) said.

Some farmers have planned a demonstration on Wednesday to protest the council’s disinclination to ban leftovers as pig feed, but the protest would be unnecessary, as the new rules would minimize the risk of transmission via leftovers, Huang said.

However, the council would continue to negotiate with the farmers, he said.

Meanwhile, three pork products from China seized at customs have tested positive for the African swine fever virus, bringing the number of such products to 10 since China reported its first infection in early August last year, he said.

The council on Dec. 18 increased fines for those found illegally importing pork products from areas affected by the disease to NT$200,000 (US$6,480) for first-time offenders and NT$1 million for repeat offenders, but customs officials had still intercepted 44 such products among 131 illegal meat imports as of Saturday, council data showed.

First-offense fines for non-pork meat products start from NT$10,000 if they are from areas without animal diseases and NT$30,000 if they are from areas with foot-and-mouth disease or bird flu.

Visitors of other nationalities, such as Vietnamese, have stopped trying to illegally import meat since the council increased the fines and boosted promotion of its policies, but Chinese visitors continue to do so, Huang said, adding that the trend is no longer attributable to insufficient information.

As cross-strait travel is expected to increase before and during the Lunar New Year holiday next month, the council would dispatch 20 more quarantine officials to ports in Kinmen County, as well as Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport, he said.

Meanwhile, a pig carcass found on Kinmen County’s Siaociou Islet (小坵島) on Friday yesterday tested negative for the disease, although another one found in the county on Monday last week tested positive, the council said.

Reports of dead animals on Taiwan proper have been increasing, but none have been confirmed to carry the virus, with some carcasses being dogs, it said.