August 2014: Plenty of niggling issues to tackle at the NPA

Aside from the daily demands from my nine-month-old son, who has just learnt to crawl and is now determined to get at everything he’s not supposed to, the world of the NPA continues to be a maelstrom of various issues, all with competing importance.

First off, we’ve more niggling problems with bovine TB (bTB) cropping up in pigs. Cases are still few and far between, but the impact on individual businesses is huge as there’s no compensation for pigs, and as there’s no pig-specific policy, cases are dealt with differently depending on where they appear.

The most recent case is most concerning as AHVLA’s failure to decide the best way forward is holding up a whole pyramid of pigs. This not only places significant pressure on the source farm, but affects the farms further down the chain. We’re urgently requesting a meeting with DEFRA to resolve the wider issue of how bTB in pigs should be dealt with, while at the same time trying to get an agreeable solution for this particular producer. This is crucial because of the precedent it will set if other large businesses have similar problems in the future.

We’ve been looking, with Defra, at whether PEDv should be notifiable or reportable. Now before you recoil in horror at the “N” word and all the connotations that could entail, let me explain. Apparently the only difference between reportable and notifiable is that reportable means you have to report it following a positive test result, while if it’s notifiable you report on suspicion, so before the disease is confirmed by test results, but probably with convincing clinical signs.

If it were notifiable, for instance, we would potentially find out about it much sooner and maybe contain it before it could spread far, which has to be good. We still need to look at potential trade impacts, but you’d think the sooner the disease was contained and eradicated, the sooner trade could resume.

We’re also still reeling from the latest news from the EC on its enforceable “guidelines” on manipulable materials and tail biting. Despite sustained lobbying from NPA and COPA, not only do we still have emoticons (smiley or sad faces) to determine what the commission thinks makes a good manipulable material, it has also steadfastly refused to remove the requirement for the materials to be edible.

Quite aside from the fact that this word isn’t in the original directive, which is blatant gold plating, no financial impact assessment has been conducted to determine just how much this will cost EU pig producers! We’ve managed to get more time to try and make the best of a bad job, but I just hope our discussions with DEFRA are more sensible when we have to decide how to apply the guidelines here.

> Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit:

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