Gov't to strengthen quarantine requirements for animal farms

SEJONG, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Tuesday it will enforce stricter requirements in issuing licenses for animal farms in its latest measure to battle animal diseases.

The measure was announced as quarantine authorities confirmed more than 70 cases of avian influenza (AI) since the first outbreak reported on Jan. 16 at a duck farm in Gochang, some 300 kilometers southwest of Seoul in North Jeolla Province.

Over 4 million poultry have been destroyed so far to prevent the AI from spreading, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The law on the livestock industry will be revised to require animal farms to have a certain amount of space and be equipped with adequate ventilation and quarantine systems, and fences or enclosures that can effectively control the entry and exit of visitors, ministry officials said.

The farms will also be limited to a set number of animals in each given space.

"The government plans to expand the scope of farms subject to business licenses to all farms by February 2016," Deputy Agriculture Minister Lee Joon-won said at a press briefing.

"The government also plans to check how well the license system is being actually observed and further improve the system if necessary," he added.

Currently, licenses are required for farms with over 1,200 square meters of land for cows and 2,500 sq. meters for chickens or ducks.

Under the revised law, set to go into effect on Sunday, an additional 9,700 farms with over 600 sq. meters of land for cows and 1,400 sq. meters for chickens or ducks will be required to obtain a government license.

The farms must also be located at least 30 meters from any major road and 500 meters from slaughterhouses or facilities that produce or store animal feed, the ministry said.

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