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South Korea Re-Opens Slaughterhouses

South Korea, battling against its worst foot-and- mouth outbreak, said March 2 it had reopened most slaughterhouses nationwide to ease a supply shortage after closing them to contain the animal disease.

The government of Asia’s fourth-largest economy said in a separate statement that it had confirmed 150 cases in 11 provinces in three months so far, which led it to cull and bury a third of its hog population and five per cent of cattle.

“Foot-and-mouth outbreaks have caused prices of pork and eggs to rally, also prices of alternative imported beef to rise,” a statement from the Finance Ministry said.

Average domestic prices of pork and imported beef had jumped a respective 35.1 per cent and 17.3 per cent in February from a year earlier, the statement noted, adding that 30 of the total 36 closed slaughterhouses were reopened so far.

The nationwide outbreaks of foot-and-mouth originated in pigs in the city of Andong in North Gyeongsang province on Nov. 28, which triggered the massive animal slaughter, nationwide vaccination and record-high pork prices.

To ease a supply shortage, the government has allowed tariff-free pork imports of up to 110,000 tonnes during the first half of this year.

NFU Says No To Enviropig

The National Farmers Union wants the pork industry to shun the so-called Enviropig. The genetically modified porcine is designed to reduce feed costs and excrete less phosphorus. But it is no substitute for better farm management, NFU Region 3 co-ordinator Sean McGivern said.

The NFU is part of a coalition of social and environmental groups who argue that the real cause of surface and groundwater pollution is the concentration of hog-confinement facilities and the number of animals in them, not the pigs.

Besides, McGivern said manure is a key source of fertilizer for farmers. “If they can’t get it from manure, they’ll have to get it from big fertilizer companies that are going to charge a high price. If good farm management is practised, phosphorus will be considered an asset, not a liability,” McGivern said.

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