Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Russian Pork Farms Raise Safeguards Amid Swine Fever Outbreak

  • Ros Agro, Cherkizovo are among producers worried by outbreaks
  • Disease’s spread seen hindering Russian effort to boost export

Russia is registering more cases of African swine fever this year than usual, prompting pork producers such as Ros Agro Plc and Cherkizovo Group PJSC to increase safety measures.

Outbreaks that took place in households and among wild boars totalled 182 by Aug. 22 this year, which is more than any previous full year except 2013, according to data from Russia’s agriculture agency, Rosselkhoznadzor. The country, which is the world’s fifth-largest pork producer, is seeing the virus mostly confined to the central and southern regions.

The efforts to prevent the spread of the disease are “almost like a war,” Ros Agro Director General Maxim Basov said Aug. 26 during a conference call with analysts. In the Tambov region, where the company has farms, employees aren’t now allowed to return home for the night after a day’s work as part of a full quarantine, he said.

The virus was introduced into Georgia from southern Africa in 2006, before spreading north. Mortality may reach 100 percent in domestic herds, with no vaccine expected in coming years.

Cherkizovo’s recent measures include more thorough disinfection of feed-delivery trucks and extending work shifts so employees enter and leave farms less frequently, according to Marina Kagan, the pork producer’s director for public and investor relations. “The situation worsened very much in the past four, five months,” she said by phone.

Cherkizovo had to shut down two farms last year after the virus infected the operations.

The outbreaks hurt Russia’s chances of expanding pig-meat exports, Kagan said, as a resurgent industry is close to meeting the country’s domestic demand. The National Meat Association proposes killing off as many wild boars as possible in the regions where the disease occurs, Sergei Yushin, head of the group’s executive committee, said at an agriculture meeting held by President Vladimir Putin last month.

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