China stops imports from Germany for fear of African swine fever. A wild boar died from it in Brandenburg. Only a short time later, Japan is following suit. Despite the threat of large losses, Agriculture Minister Klöckner advises against "scaremongering".
After China, Japan is now banning the import of pork from Germany because of African swine fever. Both the imports of live animals and pork products would be banned, said Japan's Ministry of Agriculture. The German producers delivered around 40,240 tons to Japan last year. That corresponds to around 3.3 percent of the pork imported by Japan, the ministry said.
The import ban from China has alarmed the local peasantry. "We are very concerned about the export ban for China," said the President of the German Farmers' Association, Joachim Rukwied. The People's Republic had previously "forbidden the import of pigs, wild boars and products made from them directly or indirectly from Germany". If this happens, the goods will be destroyed or sent back.
For the German pig farmers, the decision of the Chinese authorities, which was expected after the discovery of an infected wild boar, is a severe blow. Germany is the largest producer of pork in Europe, and a considerable part of the exports has so far been to China. After a swine fever outbreak in the People's Republic last year, millions of pigs had been killed there and the carcasses had to be destroyed. CDU Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner turned against "scare tactics". Although they understand "that the pig farmers are worried," Klöckner told the Berlin "Tagesspiegel". However, measures have already been taken to prevent the animal disease from spreading.
"Do everything to prevent it from spreading"
With a view to the import ban imposed by China, Klöckner referred to ongoing discussions with the country and with other third countries in order to avoid Germany-wide trade restrictions. The aim is that not all of Germany, but only individual regions, should be covered by the import ban. However, Germany would "significantly notice" a permanent import stop by China, admitted Klöckner. "China is our most important export market for pork outside the EU – this is especially true for parts that are hardly consumed here," Rukwied emphasized. Germany must now "do everything" to fight swine fever and prevent it from spreading. However, he welcomed the talks about a regionalization of import restrictions so that pork could continue to be supplied from unaffected areas.
On Thursday, the animal disease was detected in a wild boar found in the Brandenburg Spree-Neisse district. This has been rampant in neighboring Poland for some time. A restricted circle with a radius of three kilometers and a hazard zone with a radius of 15 kilometers were set up around the site. Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke from the SPD and other members of the state government found out about the protective measures on site on Saturday, in particular the construction of an electric fence around the exclusion zone and the erection of warning signs.
There is an extensive ban on entering the exclusion zone. The virus is harmless to humans. For domestic pigs and wild boars, however, the disease is fatal. If it spreads, pig farmers across Germany would face severe economic losses, far beyond the consequences of the Chinese import ban. In this context, Rukwied has already criticized a "drastic reduction in producer prices on Friday", which he described as "excessive and unacceptable". "The crisis must not be exploited by the processors and the trade to the detriment of the farmers," declared the farmers' president.