582 pig farms ignore government order on ASF virus

Taipei-Nearly 600 hog farms that feed their animals pigswill made from leftovers have failed to make upgrades, shut down their operations or transition to crop-based feed, in line with a government order to prevent African swine fever (ASF) from reaching Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Monday.

"The central government has instructed local authorities to thoroughly investigate the 582 pig farms that have failed to abide by the government order," COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (???), who also serves as deputy chief of the Emergency Operation Center for African swine fever, told a press conference.

Out of a total of 1,930 hog farms across Taiwan that feed their animals pigswill made from leftovers, as of 9:00 a.m. Monday 736 had gained permission to continue doing so after improving or installing heating equipment, while 612 have shifted to crop-based pigswill, COA tallies showed.

Such equipment allows them to heat leftovers to 90 degrees Celsius for at least an hour to kill the ASF virus before using it as pig feed, as stipulated by the government.

However, as of the end of January -- when COA subsidies to help farms transition ended -- 582 hog farms had not responded to the government order to upgrade operations or change to crop-based feed, at a time when the infectious pig disease has shows no signs of easing in China.

"These 582 farms are operating illegally if they still use leftover-based pigswill to feed their hogs," Huang stressed, instructing local authorities to investigate those farms and ensure they obey the law.

At the same time, 109 pork meat products containing the ASF virus have been confirmed in China, according to Huang, who criticized Beijing for not informing Taiwan of the situation there in a timely manner.

A brand of sausage originating from China's Shandong province discarded by a passenger at a Taiwanese airport was confirmed as testing positive for the ASF virus Jan. 22, despite the fact that Shandong has not been listed as one of the 25 ASF-affected provinces, cities and areas by the Chinese authorities, Huang said.

Those farms that do not cooperate will be fined NT$1,200-NT$6,000 (US$195) every day until March 31, when they will be forced to suspend operations, he added.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel