Culling of all pigs at ASF positive sites is completed

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Culling of all pigs at ASF positive sites is completed

The government has completed the culling of pigs at all sites that were confirmed to be infected with African swine fever (ASF) as it ramps up containment measures to halt further spread of the disease.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Monday, the government has culled all 145,546 pigs at 13 infected sites and farms within a 3-kilometer (1.86 miles) radius.

The total number of pigs killed for ASF prevention is set to rise even more as the government has been purchasing pigs for slaughter since Friday that are unaffected by the disease but are from areas where ASF has been confirmed, such as Gimpo, Paju and Yeoncheon County in Gyeonggi.

The purchased pigs will be checked for ASF and slaughtered for meat processing. The government plans to cull the remaining unpurchased pigs, which are not suitable for meat processing, in Gimpo and Paju with the consent of farmers.

While Yeoncheon will not undergo the measures to the extent of other areas as it has only one confirmed case of the virus, the government still plans to purchase 34,000 pigs from that area.

The disease has so far been contained in the three areas and Ganghwa County, where all farmed pigs have already been culled. All four areas are north of the capital near the border with North Korea.

The latest containment plan, however, faces resistance from pig farmers and organizations.

The Gyeonggi branch of the Korea Pork Producers Association opposed the government plan in a statement last week, asking for compensation.

“Through the government’s unilateral decision, pig farms face shutting down,” read the statement. “[We] will not accept the government’s measures on farms that have not consented and even those that do should be presented with rational compensation.”

The mass culling has also prompted animal rights organizations to criticize the government’s methods.

While authorities have resorted to using carbon dioxide to first asphyxiate the pigs and then burying them in the ground, animal rights groups such as the Korea Association for Animal Protection have called for more humane methods like euthanasia.

Meanwhile, additional cases of the disease have yet to be confirmed since last Wednesday.

Although two suspected cases of ASF were reported on Sunday, including one in South Chungcheong, the country’s largest pig-raising province, the government reported that tests from the suspected pig farms were negative.

Pork prices have stabilized as the number of new confirmed cases has slowed down.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]

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