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15.2 bln yuan for pig breeders to boost supply
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China has earmarked 15.2 billion yuan (2.05 billion U.S. dollars) so far this year to support pig breeders, in an effort to ensure adequate pork supplies, said Zeng Xiao'an, a senior official with the Ministry of Finance, on Monday.

The ministry has supported breeders through a range of policies, including direct subsidies, insuring fertile sows and vaccinating animals against major epidemic diseases, he said.

The production of pork, a staple meat in China, has slumped since May as breeders faced rising feed costs. Production has also been limited by a massive pig cull after an outbreak of blue-ear disease in some regions.

The government has promised to double the subsidy for every fertile sow to 100 yuan from July 2008 for a whole year.

The sow insurance, which was launched in August to cover losses from disease and disaster, would be extended to "as many sows as possible," according to a State Council executive meeting held by Wen Jiabao earlier this month. By November, China had insured 21.2 million sows, or 44.5 percent of the herd nationwide, according to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

The central government also planned to spend 2.5 billion yuan next year to help breeders build "standardized, large-scale" pig farms, according to a decision reached at the meeting.

Vaccinations against major epidemic diseases would be available free of charge and subsidies should be offered to farmers whose pigs were culled to control diseases, it said.

Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai on Sunday urged local governments to strive for steady supply of pork next year, pushing up pork production to 53 million tons.

(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2007)

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