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China plans subsidies to help disease-hit pig farms restock: agriculture ministry

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is urging rural governments to offer temporary subsidies to pig breeding farms and large-scale producers to help stabilize hog production, as the worst disease outbreak in years threatens to slash pork supplies.

The agriculture ministry outlined measures on Friday to ensure a quick return to stable pig production, including subsidies for breeding farms and support for small producers seeking to scale up.

China, the world’s biggest pork consumer, has reported 114 outbreaks of African swine fever since August last year, although many in the industry believe it is worse than officially reported.

The disease kills around 90 percent of pigs and there is no cure or vaccine. Around 1 million pigs have been culled so far to contain the disease although many more could have died in unreported outbreaks. The disease is not harmful to humans.

Analysts say hog production could fall by as much as 30 percent in 2019, which threatens to send prices soaring.

The ministry said it is necessary to support breeding farms to resume production as soon as possible. It also urged provincial agriculture departments to release temporary subsidies for breeding farms “as soon as possible”.

The ministry also called on local authorities to issue compensation for farms infected with the disease in a timely way, and to help them improve their farm infrastructure for disinfection and biosecurity.

It said banks should not suspend loans or limit loans for pig farmers or slaughtering and processing enterprises.

Reporting by Dominique Patton; editing by Richard Pullin

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