Sat, Dec 29, 2018 - Page 3 News List

COA urges municipalities to hold swine fever drills

LINE OF DEFENSE:Lawmakers yesterday passed changes to the law that prohibit any meat products from being shipped by mail, as Chinese post shipments increased

By Lin Chia-nan and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporters

Pigs are pictured at a hog farm in Hsinchu County yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Hsinchu County Livestock Disease Control Center.

A nationwide drill simulating an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak on Wednesday showed why local governments should stage similar drills in one month, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, calling on officials and the public not to let their guard down during the New Year’s holiday starting today.

Since China reported its first infection in August, the government has increased fines for illegal meat imports, expanded quarantine measures, set up a central emergency operations center and held simulations of disposal of dead pigs in case of a local outbreak.

The Wednesday drill showed that many officials, especially younger ones, were not familiar with emergency disposal procedures, given that it has been 21 years since similar drills were held for foot-and-mouth disease, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.

Local governments should push hog farms to adopt the required quarantine measures, such as disinfecting leftovers used to feed pigs and regulating the movement of personnel, vehicles and animals, he said.

Local governments should also plan how to dispose of dead pigs in the event of an outbreak — burying or burning them to prevent the fever from spreading, he added.

The central emergency authority was established on Dec. 18 and local governments could set up similar centers, as Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties have already done, Huang said.

Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Li-shan (張麗善) on Tuesday announced that the county would bar farmers from feeding pigs leftovers.

The move drew criticism from Premier William Lai (賴清德), who on Thursday said it might complicate kitchen waste disposal.

Asked to comment on Chang’s policy, Huang said that the county should process its own leftovers and avoid further burdening incinerators at other municipalities.

Instead of an immediate ban, the council advises disinfecting leftovers or switching to fodder, Huang added.

The council on Monday announced that it would subsidize farmers who switch to fodder or stop raising pigs.

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed an amendment to the Act for Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) prohibiting the import of any meat product by mail.

The amendment says that goods subject to inspection may not enter the nation through any type of mail.

Post items found in contravention of the rule would be returned, confiscated or destroyed, it says.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who sponsored the amendment, said that since the World Organization for Animal Health in May last year declared the nation free of foot-and-mouth disease, the government has been making every effort to keep swine diseases at bay.

However, China, where ASF broke out, might be plotting to “drag Taiwan in,” as mail deliveries from China to Taiwan surged by 21 percent last month alone, Chiu said.

By withholding information on the Chinese outbreak, Beijing has unilaterally breached the Cross-Strait Arrangement on Cooperation of Agricultural Product Quarantine and Inspection (海峽兩岸農產品檢疫檢驗合作協議), she said.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday said it is not obliged to inform Taipei of developments in the outbreak, as neither pork nor swine diseases are covered by the agreement.

The agreement served as the basis for cross-strait exchange of information on inspection results for produce, meat products and seafood from March 2010 until the ASF outbreak.

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