Spanish farmers against the import of piglets from Central Europe

by Lorraine Williamson
import of piglets

MADRID – As a measure against the introduction of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Iberian Peninsula, the large Spanish farmers’ association COAG has called for a reduction in the import of piglets from Central Europe. 

The fact that 200,000 piglets are imported into Spain every month is “Russian roulette” for the sector, as the farmers’ organisation warned in Madrid on Monday. A single case of ASF could undo the great efforts of the sector that has succeeded in positioning itself on the market. 

And when importing from abroad, the high degree of biosecurity that Spanish pig farmers offer in their farms does not help either. An export worth more than €7.5 billion a year and 450,000 jobs are at stake. An outbreak of ASF in wild boars or a pig farm would cause a huge blow to Spanish pig farming. Economically, the contagious swine disease would hit the sector, but it could also wipe out a large part of the sector. 

Pigs from the Netherlands and Germany 

A particularly big thorn in the association’s side is the current situation of AVP in Germany. 90% of the piglets imported into Spain indeed came from the Netherlands. Nevertheless, the risk to animal health is high due to the proximity to Germany. The COAG also qualifies the import of calves by truck from countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, where AVP is also rampant, as risky. 

Call for further protective measures 

The association does not explain where the piglets should come from if imports from Central Europe are reduced. However, the call for further protection measures in international piglet transport was repeated. 

Before being imported into Spain, the animals must be tested for ASF using a blood test. In addition, cleaning and disinfection certificates are mandatory for trucks. Not only when transporting piglets, but also when importing fresh and cured meat from countries with ASF. 

Spanish pig sector 

The Spanish pig sector has grown considerably in recent years. According to figures from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), an average of 4.725 million pigs were slaughtered every month in Spain from January to November 2022. Therefore, the industry is an important part of the country’s agricultural sector. Moreover, Spain is one of the largest producers of pork in the European Union. The industry is centred in the northern regions of the country including;

  • Castilla y León
  • Castilla-La Mancha
  • Catalonia
  • Galicia

This is where most of the country´s pigs are raised and processed.

Related post: Limits in sight for Spanish macro farms 

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