German pig farmers in extreme emergency situation
ISN managing director Dr. Torsten Staack urges politicians to take action: "We are still struggling with the considerable congestion. Then there is the worsening price misery! We can only get out of this ruinous situation for the entire German pig farming if politics finally acts decisively. After all, because of political interference, the pig farmers slipped into this predicament through no fault of their own. Europe's largest slaughterhouse in Rheda was severely restricted in its work for over 20 weeks due to official interventions. That no longer has much to do with practical constraints. This political issue especially got us deep into misery. And now everyone pretends to have done everything in their power."
Fight against ASF
Since the first confirmed case of African swine fever (ASF) on September 10, 2020 in a wild boar in Brandenburg, measures have been taken on-site to combat the epidemic and to limit the spread of the virus. Just a few days after the outbreak, experts from the EU Veterinary Emergency Team (EUVET) were called in for advice. Members of the EUVET team made an on-site visit to get an idea of the epidemic situation and examined the equipment available and the topography of the affected areas.
To curb the epidemic, the experts recommend the temporary restriction of agricultural and forestry activities, rapid fencing of the core areas, the rapid establishment of wild boar-free white zones and a large-scale search for fallen game in order to prevent the disease from spreading into inaccessible areas. The EUVET team also recommended the construction of a permanent wild boar fence on the German-Polish border.
Meanwhile the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) has regularly distributed assurances that regionalization agreements on sales opportunities for German pork in third countries are being negotiated at the highest level. But so far nothing tangible has come out of it. The track record since losing the required ASF-free export status is downright sobering after two months: the BMEL has not been able to reopen any noteworthy sales channels. In addition to China, there are other Asian countries that are important sales channels for German exporters.
New hope from Toennies
There is hope that the pig congestion in Germany will not increase any further in the coming weeks and possibly even be reduced. The reason is that Toennies, Germany's largest pig slaughterer, can once again get more animals on the hooks. As the company announced, a completely rebuilt cutting line for hams conforming to corona standards was put into operation at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück plant following official approval. With around 200 employees in this area, the slaughtering and cutting capacities could again be reached as before the shutdown of the plant in June and up to 40,000 additional pigs could be processed each week, the meat producer reported.
"In the short term, this could make a significant contribution to gradually reducing the dramatic pig congestion in Germany," explained Toennies Managing Director Dr. André Vielstädte. For the first time since the resumption of operations after the corona stop, the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site could once again operate at full capacity. Vielstädte explained that this was made possible by the enormous effort that Toennies had invested in the conversion of the cattle cutting facility, which had previously been relocated to Badbergen, within only about six weeks.
According to Toennies, extensive measures have been implemented to meet the Corona requirement for the ofprotection employees. These include greater distances between the individual workplaces, as well as the high-performance HEPA filters that continuously clean the air. "Up to now, our capacity utilization has been around 70%. Now, with the additional production area, we can take more pigs off the farmer’s hands and relieve the burden on producers," emphasized Vielstädte.