NPA reacts to US boar imports

The NPA has again expressed its opposition to live imports of pigs from countries with PEDv after it emerged that JSR has recently imported a number of boars from the US.

A position statement published on the organisation’s website said: “The NPA is aware that JSR has imported a consignment of boars from the US. The company advised the NPA when the boars were in transit and explained the reasons, and the biosecurity measures it had put in place.

“The NPA does not approve of any live imports from PEDv at-risk countries for the time being, either directly to the UK or via other EU countries, as it believes the risk to UK herd health is too great.”

The NPA added it acknowledged that the imported boars had been subject to strict quarantine conditions and that JSR had been open with the association and had responded to its biosecurity concerns.

Earlier this year, the NPA announced the UK’s genetics companies had agreed to a voluntary imports ban from at-risk countries; however not all companies had been able to sign up to this indefinitely. JSR made it clear to the NPA at the time that if orders were received from producers, and the appropriate robust testing regimes were in place, imports would resume.

Commenting on JSR’s imports, NPA chairman Richard Longthrop said risk was the product of the chance of an event occurring and the consequences if the event did happen.

“While JSR might well have reduced the chance of the boars carrying PEDv, the potential consequences remain massive – indeed barely imaginable,” he added. “NPA would still challenge this importation based on the potential consequences, but we will be meeting with senior management at JSR shortly.”

A UK imports protocol for stock from at-risk countries was developed by the breeding companies, AHVLA, Scotland’s Rural College and NPA, and in July the EU published new rules governing the import of live pigs from countries with PEDv.

While stopping short of banning imports of live pigs from these countries, the EU implemented a more stringent quarantine and testing regime.

Pigs for export must now have been kept for 40 days before dispatch at a holding in which no case of PED has been confirmed or suspected, and they have been subjected to an agent identification test (PCR) to detect porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus and porcine deltacoronavirus on faecal samples taken within seven days prior to dispatch. The results of these tests must have proved negative, and the pigs involved must not have been vaccinated against either virus.

JSR confirmed that it had imported boars from the US in early August, and that these had been brought into the country in line with the latest EU testing regime, which is based on the UK import protocol.

The company told Pig World that while it had contractual agreements from suppliers in the US to take boars, it had delayed imports until a robust test became available in the UK that could distinguish between the historical PED strains found here and the new, more-virulent strain from North America.

“The pigs came from a supplier that JSR has been working with for 23 years and the nucleus farm in the US is under a constant monitoring programme. The boars were tested by the AHVLA when they arrived in the UK two weeks ago with negative results,” the company added. “The boars are being tested again today (Friday), and we have taken extra precautions here in the UK to reduce the risks should any problem arise. For example, food for more than two weeks was delivered to the quarantine unit before the pigs arrived to help minimise traffic onto and off the farm.”

Rattlerow Farms, meanwhile, has said it’s keen to reinforce its support for the voluntary ban on the importation of stock from countries suffering from PEDv.

The pig breeding and genetics company says it wanted to assure its customers that it didn’t intend to put the health of their herds at risk.

“We’re committed to following NPA advice and customer sentiment, and have no plans to import animals originating from the USA or Canada into our UK facilities,” Rattlerow’s joint managiong director Robert Lawson said. “We place the maintenance of health status as our top priority and follow strict procedures on the introduction of animals into our quarantine sites.”

Rattlerow Farms believes there’s a real risk of introduction of PEDv from North America and ASF from Europe, and it’s the responsibility of breeding companies to set an example to minimise these risks.

“We hope the NPA will continue in its work to reinforce this message across the industry,” Mr Lawson added.

ACMC also said it remained 100% committed to the voluntary import ban of pigs in to the United Kingdom from the US, Canada and any other country with PEDv.

“Our veterinary consultants advise us that PEDv is an extremely contagious disease requiring an extremely small amount of virus to cause infection,” the company said in a statement. “Herds in North America have experienced up to 100% piglet mortality with only 80% of herds recovering to normal levels of productivity after infection.

“In order to protect the UK pig industry, the voluntary ban was instigated by the majority of UK breeding companies. ACMC will continue to work closely with the NPA to help maintain our country’s PEDv freedom and mitigate risk of any other diseases, in particular ASF, from entering our shores.”

HMRC trade figures for the first half of 2014 show no live pig imports from the US, although stock worth £154,000 was brought into the UK from there in November and December last year, and another £65,000 worth was imported in June and July 2013.

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