China Cracks Down on Swine Fever Cover-Up as Two Farms Punished

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Two large-scale hog farms in China will be punished for covering up outbreaks of African swine fever as the country races to stem the spread of the epidemic.

A farm in Heilongjiang province in the northeast of the country failed to report an outbreak of the disease on time, had deliberately evaded quarantine, and sold sick pigs, China’s agriculture ministry said. Another farm in Jiangsu province in China’s east also didn’t fulfill its obligation to report an outbreak and had tampered with data, the ministry said.

A phone call to Heilongjiang Asia Europe Animal Hunbandry Co., operator of the farm in Heilongjiang’s Mingshui county, as well as to Jiangsu Jiahua Pig Breeding Co. which owns the farm in Jiangsu’s Siyang county, went unanswered.

“China is in the critical period of prevention and control of African swine fever,” the ministry said in the statement dated Jan. 18. “Local authorities should continue to crackdown on irregularities and any misbehavior shall be dealt with seriously.”

The clampdown on the farms reflects the urgency felt by Chinese officials trying to tackle the disease. African swine fever, which is fatal to hogs and readily transmitted through contact, began spreading in China in August and has so far led to the culling of over 900,000 pigs. While that pales in comparison to the 700 million hogs it consumes annually, its rapid spread across the country has raised alarm both within the world’s top pork producer and its neighboring countries.

Farms that fail to report an outbreak in time or don’t cooperate on control measures such as quarantine, isolation and culling of pigs won’t receive forced-culling subsidies, the ministry said. Local animal husbandry and veterinary departments should increase the intensity of warnings and education, the ministry said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.