Lackluster swine fever policy could cost Taiwan

by 5m Editor
16 January 2019, at 12:00am

Last year saw the first cases of the African swine fever virus spreading beyond China’s national borders

The highly contagious pig disease can be — and already has been — transmitted through direct contact with infected animals and kitchen waste fed to pigs, and it can survive several months in processed meat products.

Many countries have implemented a raft of measures to prevent cross-border transmission of the virus. The methods employed by many of these countries are similar to those employed by military forces engaging in biochemical warfare.

The disease is not easily checked using standard epidemic prevention. If a crack appears in Taiwan’s existing system for preventing biochemical epidemics, the pig farming industry cannot be saved simply by sacrificing one year of losses — at a cost of NT$200 billion (US$6.49 billion). If the virus really takes hold, it is possible that farmers would be unable to raise pigs again for another three decades.

If that happened, the losses would be almost unimaginable, possibly amounting to as much as NT$6 trillion. Is government policy up to the task of preventing the nation’s livestock farmers and all Taiwanese from having to face such an enormous tragedy?

The hog farming industry still has not undergone a process of high-technology reform and modernization. The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of successive administrations, which have, over the long term, made allowances for the financial needs of pig farmers, deliberately allowing them to reduce costs through breeding methods designed to support the livelihoods of small and medium-sized livestock farmers.

The question is if the livestock industry can continue to operate according to this low-cost model in the face of the prevailing international trend toward more competition, modernization and high-tech animal husbandry.

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Source: Taipei Times