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Agriculture minister resigns in swine fever protest

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 13.03.2014 13:41
Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba has resigned over what he claims is a lack of government action on compensating farmers after two cases of African swine fever were detected in Poland.

Agricultural Minister Stanisław Kalemba announces his resignation at a press conference on Thursday: photo - PAP/Tomasz Gzell

"The main reason for the resignation is a lack of action aimed at conducting operations to fight off the effects of two cases of ASF [African Swine Fever]," Stanislaw Kalemba said at a press conference on Thursday.

In February, two wild boar had been found to have died from swine fever not far from the Belarusian border.

The finding follows two cases of African swine fever detected in wild boar in Lithuania.

Russia slapped a ban on pork products from the EU as a result and China has also suspended imports of Polish pork products.

No cases of swine fever have been found in pigs related to Polish pork products.

Kalemba, agricultural minister since July 2012, is a member of the junior coalition partner Polish Peasants Party (PSL), who have held the post of agricultural minister since being in government with Civic Platform since 2007.

The minister had claimed on 28 February that the state would buy surplus pigs from the specially created ASF buffer zone near the Belarusian border.

Kalemba had pledged that the process would start in the first week of March, and that the responsibility for the livestock would be handled by the state-owned Material Reserves Agency (ARM).

“There is money reserved for the purchase of surplus pigs in the buffer zone,” he had assured.

However, the policy has still to be set in motion. Kalemba later claimed on 6 March that the EU was prepared to pay compensation to pig farmers in the buffer zone, with Poland paying half of the costs.

Government spokesperson Małgorzata Kidawa-Blonska has told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily that Kalemba's official letter of resignation has not yet reached Prime Minister Tusk's office.

However, she commented that “Minister Kalemba did not handle the crisis on the pork market particularly well.”

Both China and Japan have also placed an embargo on Polish pork products, leading to further dismay among pig farmers.

The EU has argued that Russia's initial block on all EU pork products was "disproportionate."

Health Commissioner Tonio Borg argued that in all likelihood, the outbreak occurred in Belarus, and not within the EU.


source: IAR

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