Almost 4.5 million pigs that are now kept on small private farms might soon be confiscated from their owners as the government attempts to fight an outbreak of African swine fever that is sweeping across the country, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.
Fifty-five cases of the deadly virus have been reported as of mid-July, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a Monday meeting with his deputies.
"The fever can lead to a total elimination of livestock," Medvedev said, according to a transcript of the meeting on the Cabinet's website.
His deputy Arkady Dvorkovich proposed a set of measures to address this situation, including federal enforcement of quarantine, putting biological waste disposal sites in order, implementing a system for tracking the movement of livestock and animal products within the country and instituting a ban on pig breeding for all organizations that fail to comply with sanitary requirements.
Recognizing that taking pigs away from small private farms could be "a sensitive issue," Medvedev said the government should support those whose livelihood might be damaged as a result.
Russia's swine breeding industry has made strides in recent years, with the country now considering exporting pork, according to Medvedev. But this is due to the increasing number of major enterprises that have entered the business and not to small private farms, which are gradually declining in importance, he added.