Germany confirms another swine fever case, may help farmers

HAMBURG (Reuters) - One more case of African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in a wild boar in eastern Germany, Germany’s federal agriculture ministry said on Thursday, and the government is considering aid to farmers if pork markets decline further.

The new confirmation brings the total number of cases in the eastern state of Brandenburg to seven in the past week following six others all confirmed in wild boars, not farm animals.

China and a series of other pork buyers banned imports of German pork in the past few days after the first case was confirmed.

The disease is not dangerous to humans but is fatal to pigs, and pork importing nations often impose import bans on countries where it has been found, even in wild animals. A massive outbreak in China led to hundreds of millions of pigs being culled.

Germany’s government is “intensively monitoring” the country’s pork market but prices had not fallen this week after a slump last week, German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said in a speech in the German parliament late on Thursday.

German pork sales are still possible inside the European Union and the bloc accounts for 70% of Germany’s pork exports, she said.

“We are analysing the market situation every day and we are prepared - should market distortions take place - to support the farmers,” she said.

This could include state subsidies for private storage of pork, she said. “Currently warehouses are well-filled with export goods,” Kloeckner said.

Germany is continuing talks with pork importing countries to achieve a ban on pork imports only from local regions which have the disease instead of blanket national bans, she said.

“More cases are expected by experts,” the agriculture ministry said of the situation in Brandenburg. “ASF is easily transmitted from wild boar to wild boar by body fluids.”

No farm animals in Germany have been infected, the ministry added.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jane Merriman