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S. Korean Farmers Confront Police

April 9, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Angry farmers trying to bring truckloads of squealing pigs to the capital for a protest against falling prices clashed Saturday with police who blocked their progress on a rural highway.

Prices for hogs have dropped 30 percent in recent weeks amid an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, even though retail prices for pork have risen slightly. Farmers accuse middlemen of manipulating the supply for profits.

``Move back police!″ about 300 farmers and supporters shouted, shoving police who maintained a barricade on the highway 90 miles south of Seoul.

No serious clashes or injuries were reported.

The pig breeders had planned to release 30 trucks full of pigs in front of government buildings in Seoul to show their anger at falling prices. Farmers demand that the government help increase pig prices, but they have made no specific proposals.

Symptoms of foot-and-mouth began showing in a few dozen cattle in Paju, north of Seoul, around March 20, spreading quickly to the south, and infecting at least eight major cattle farming areas in South Korea’s western region.

In response, South Korea has slaughtered about 400 cattle and pigs and inoculated 110,000 others. Most livestock markets were closed to prevent the further spread of the disease.

No new outbreaks were reported in the past four days.

The government is waging a massive public relations campaign to encourage people to eat more beef and pork to help push up wholesale prices.

South Korea’s 650,000-man military said it would increase its pork consumption by 60 percent.

Officials report an average 30 percent drop in meat consumption since the outbreak was first reported.

The disease virtually wiped out Taiwan’s hog herds three years ago.

Update hourly