South Korean farmers assess fallout of major outbreak of foot and mouth disease
An outbreak of foot and mouth disease has plunged the South Korean farming sector into crisis mode, threatening the livelihoods of a generation of farmers and hitting consumers.
Pocheon, South Korea
Though there were no cases of foot and mouth disease detected on their land, she says, a nearby cow farm reported an infected animal and that meant their entire herd, too, had to be culled. “I wanted to cry because my husband was so hurt” by the news, says Ms. Lim. “You go to the farm, and there is nothing – the sounds of the pigs, gone."
Then, when the disease returned three months ago, the family was prepared, having inoculated its slowly repopulated livestock. But around them in the Pocheon region, colleagues and friends in the livestock industry have been poleaxed in South Korea’s worst outbreak of foot and mouth.
The outbreak, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, has plunged the South Korean farming sector into crisis mode, threatening the livelihoods of a generation of farmers – many of whom face the realistic prospect of losing their businesses – and hitting consumers in the pocket by forcing food price increases.
The country has already culled 3.33 million animals – including pigs, cattle, goats, and deer – according to a recent estimate. At 165 farms in Pocheon area alone, only about a fifth of an original 260,000 pigs remain, according to a representative of the local pig association. Foot and mouth is now also sweeping North Korea, threatening to deepen an already dire food situation there, according to Radio Free Asia. As the losses mount and countries around the world worry about a spread beyond the peninsula, Seoul is coming under increasing pressure to stem the spread.