In spite of African swine fever (ASF), the pork-producing sector in Spain experienced strong development and swine production increased from 6 million head in 1960 to 16.7 million in 1989, representing an increase of 178.3% from 1960 to 1989, says Jose Sánchez-Vizcaíno, DVM.
At this time, the sector employed 200,000 people, taking into account secondary industries, and produced nearly 1.2 million tons of meat. Of this, 50% was consumed as manufactured products, of which cured products constituted 45% - a very high percentage compared to the European countries. On the whole, the contribution of the pig industry to the total annual agricultural production was $1.58 million.
However, export restrictions restrained significant development of the Spanish pig sector. ASF imposed economic hardships on pork producers and created barriers to intra-community trade in live pigs, fresh pig meat and certain pork products. ASF control measures also produced great economic costs to the Spanish administration.
An analysis of the effort to control ASF in Spain in the year 1983 estimated costs at $12.9 million. The Spanish administration, aware of the situation, established a coordinated program to eradicate ASF in Spain in March 1985. It was approved and provided an initial financial support of $48.5 million by the European community.
“At one time, Spain was not a competitive swine producer, but now that ASF is gone, Spain is one of the top four exporters of pork globally,” Sánchez-Vizcaíno says.