Pig Culling in Bulgarian Sanitary Zones Launches Protests

Protest rallies took place in southern Bulgaria on Friday as hundreds resisted the government’s order to cull all home-raised pigs in a 12.4-mile sanitary zone around all registered industrial pig farms on Monday because of deadly African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks.

The Black Sea state has so far detected 30 ASF outbreaks at industrial or backyard farms. On Friday, veterinary authorities said they would cull 8,253 pigs after detecting a sixth ASF outbreak at a large breeding farm in the northeast of the country, Reuters reported.

The outbreak, detected at a farm in the village of Vetren, has resulted in a total of more than 120,000 pigs being killed on industrial farms in the past two weeks to help stop the spread of this deadly and highly transmissible virus of pigs.

Experts believe Bulgaria could lose its entire pig breeding industry and have its 600,000 pigs culled, Reuters reported.

Protestors were upset because they said there had been no ASF outbreak in their regions. After 31 mayors in the southern Pazardzhik district issued a joint statement saying they would not allow the culling to proceed, Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva extended the deadline for culling in the area from August 2 to August 11, Reuters reported.

Nearly every household in Bulgaria’s rural areas keeps home-raised pigs. However, representatives of Bulgaria’s industrial pig companies, backed by representatives of the meat production, meat processing and grain producing industries, called for a nationwide state of emergency to be declared because of the spread of the disease. 

Officials fear the virus could cause major economic damage to the country, up to $1.1 billion. Already, analysts say the price of pork in Bulgaria has increased by up to 30% in less than a month because of the outbreaks and could rise by another 15% this fall.

ASF is a deadly disease of both domestic and wild pigs, but it poses no threat to food safety or human health.

Learn more about the spread of ASF on porkbusiness.com/ASF.

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