The Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has put an end, as of last Monday, to the European Union restrictions on the movement of sheep and goat animals and products that were affected by sheep and goat pox (SVC). However, as a preventive measure to avoid possible resurgences of the infection due to the possible presence of the virus, the Regional Ministry is maintaining the restrictions in a small area, which will be lifted progressively.
The outbreak has resulted in thirteen outbreaks of the disease in Andalusia, twelve in the Baza region of Granada, specifically in the municipalities of Benamaurel, Cúllar and Baza, as well as in the area of Huéscar, also in Granada, and one in the municipality of Oria, in the province of Almería. A total of 4,345 sheep and goats have been slaughtered.
Once the first outbreak was detected, the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development immediately adopted the control measures provided for in Community legislation. These included the slaughter of the animals on the affected farm, the disposal of the carcasses at the processing plant, and the official cleaning and disinfection of the farm. A 3-kilometre protection zone and a 10-kilometre surveillance zone were also established, with reinforcement of biosecurity and surveillance measures on farms. In addition to this, animal and product movement restriction measures have been applied, as well as the epidemiological investigation to try to identify the origin of the virus, still under study, as well as the possible risk contacts that could have occurred.
As a result of the implementation of the protection and surveillance zones, a total of 210 livestock holdings and approximately 45,000 head of livestock have been placed under movement restriction measures for animals and products such as manure and feed.
In order to limit, as far as possible, the restrictions on the movement of animals, the Regional Ministry, in close coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, implemented an Intensive Surveillance Plan specific to the affected area, with the aim of preventing the spread of the disease to other areas. To this end, samples have been taken from all farms located within 5 km of any of the outbreaks and analysed by PCR at the national reference laboratory in Algete, Madrid. More than 6,000 samples were taken in order to justify the existence of the disease only in the declared outbreaks, with other regions and municipalities in the provinces of Granada and Almeria remaining free.
Aid for affected livestock farmers
The Director General of Agricultural and Livestock Production of the Regional Ministry, Manuel Gómez Galera, explained that “it is true that the outbreak management measures have involved difficult decisions for farmers, such as the slaughter of animals, the elimination of feed, manure and other inputs from the farm, as well as the limitation of livestock movements, which have prevented the use of pastures near the farms”. However, as he assured, “the amounts of compensation for slaughter have been paid, except for a small number that have not yet resolved the incidents, as well as the costs of disposal of carcasses, to which will be added payments for cleaning and disinfection, in addition to having established extraordinary aid, which they will also receive”.
In the specific case of compensation for slaughter, the Regional Ministry has managed “in an agile manner”, as Gómez Galera emphasised, the processing of the amounts earmarked for this purpose, processing payments amounting to 219,000 euros. A figure to which must be added the 92,000 euros already assessed and in the process of being paid for carcass disposal costs.
In the case of the extraordinary aid, which is available to the 210 sheep and goat farms affected, it will compensate for the extraordinary costs incurred by farmers in feeding livestock that were not allowed to graze. These have a budget from the Regional Government of Andalusia and come under the de minimis scheme as stipulated in the European Union Regulation. They will be granted ex officio by the administration itself to the owners of the production units, the amount of aid being determined according to the number of animals affected by the movement restrictions, and on the basis of the unit cost determined to compensate for the additional feed costs during the period in which the movement restrictions have been in force. Once the aid has been published, the estimated period for its resolution and payment is three months.
The affected Regional Agricultural Offices (OCAS), the Territorial Delegation of Granada, the Animal Health Service and the Director General of Agricultural and Livestock Production have held meetings with the affected livestock farmers, as well as with representatives of the livestock sector, municipal authorities and the Livestock Health Defence Group (ADSG) to report on the development of the disease, control measures implemented and with the aim of meeting the demands of those affected with permanent communication.