Billions of euros at risk because of swine fever, says farm minister

Hungary has so far managed to keep the African swine fever away from its pig farms but the risk posed by the disease runs into billions of euros, Agriculture Minister István Nagy told Magyar Idők in an interview.

The African swine fever appeared in Hungary this summer, after the disease spread from Bulgaria to Hungary's eastern neighbor Romania. Nagy said the control of animal diseases has become a crucial issue in agriculture, because an outbreak could crush the entire economy of a country and the current swine fever outbreak puts billions of euros at risk on a continental level.

"With great effort we have managed to contain the disease at wild boars and thankfully none of our pig farms have been infected. It is crucial to maintain this situation for the sake of our exports. Luckily, the Hungarian animal health system has an excellent reputation. If the relevant authorities put their stamp on it, foreign markets see it as a guarantee," Nagy said.

Romania has been heavily hit by the outbreak in August, when it had to cull some 140,000 animals. At the same time, Romania's problem has also become an opportunity for Hungary: it is now the largest exporter of piglets to Romanian farms, with Germany in second place.

Nagy said the problem has become a European one after the disease was also detected in Belgium and every country is taking it very seriously. In September Romania asked for the European Union's financial assistance in dealing with the outbreak.

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