Cattle farmers in Kinmen County expressed concern yesterday that a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could make their beef unmarketable, while county officials urged the public not to panic.
The Council of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine on Friday reported an outbreak of “type O pan-Asia” foot-and-mouth disease, which affects hoofed animals such as deer, cattle, sheep and pigs.
In response to the outbreak, 530 pigs had been culled as a preventive measure from Monday to Thursday.
Over the years, the county government has encouraged farmers to raise cattle. Currently, Kinmen’s herds total about 5,200 cows, but the county consumes only 300 annually. With a ban currently in place on some livestock from Kinmen, farmers are worried that their beef will become unsellable.
The situation for pig farmers is slightly better, as the 17,000 pigs in the county roughly satisfy market demand, according to officials from the Kinmen County Economic Affairs Bureau, who added that farmers might face problems if the public panics and stops purchasing pork products.
Kinmen County Commissioner Li Wo-shi (李沃士) said residents of Kinmen should not panic because the central and local governments were working to control the disease.
The bureau said the council has already banned the import of raw meat from cloven-hoofed animals from Kinmen County to Taiwan proper until the disease is totally under control.
It has also implemented other preventive measures, such as using sniffer dogs to check the luggage of visitors to Taiwan proper from Kinmen and Matsu islands, and from China’s Xiamen, Mawei and Quanzhou, the bureau said.
The bureau urged owners of livestock and workers in related industries to avoid visiting countries with foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks and to immediately report any symptoms that they suspect could be foot-and-mouth disease in cloven-hoofed animal populations.
The Statue for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) states that people who fail to report the disease may be fined between NT$10,000 to NT$50,000, the bureau said.