I have good reason to bang on about preparing for ASF

I had my appraisal this week and as I prepared for it I asked myself ‘what is it exactly you have achieved for members this year?’ Looking back was a really useful exercise, as you forget so much of what has happened.

The year started with an early win on TB compensation for pigs, then we ploughed straight into the mammoth Health and Harmony response, trying to steer Defra in the right direction and provide a vision for the pig industry post- Brexit.

The re-write of the pig welfare code was next and we are still wrangling over the detail. While most of the really bonkers stuff has thankfully been removed or re-worded, there are still some really gritty bits that need working through on tails, enrichment and casualty slaughter and I think we’ve got a real battle on our hands here so it will need careful negotiation.

I initiated a tail-docking action group with industry and Defra/ APHA to try and develop a joint approach, rather than the large stick we are currently staring at, and it will need a lot of support to ensure we get the right outcome.

We held the first Incursion Support Network meetings, which aim to create a more cohesive approach to animal rights incursions. This turned out to be rather handy as several more ‘exposés’ followed.

Other than the poor sods that are targeted, I don’t think people realise just how much effort and time goes into managing these things, not least to ensure they are investigated properly to protect and support innocent people and manage industry reputation.

I did finally get Viva!’s cinema ad banned, however, which was very satisfying. In the middle of all that, welfare during transport was also scrutinised and CO2 production fell off a cliff so I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to manage the complete over-reaction by the media while trying to convince Government to do something sensible about it!

The feral wild boar working group meets in a couple of weeks, which I’m really pleased about, especially given the fact that the wolf that is ASF is sniffing around the door. I apologise in advance for banging on about signage, preparedness and contingency planning, but I do have good reason.

I was unfortunate enough to be working on Infected Premises Number One during the CSF outbreak in 2000 and, trust me, no one needs that kind of experience in their lives. Cases in Belgium continue to creep up, but they do appear to be planning stringent measures to stamp it out.

I’m off to a workshop about AHDB as Defra is reviewing its effectiveness. I’m hoping for some constructive thinking, but urge members to complete the online consultation and have your say, too!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: www.npa-uk.org.uk