BPEX is to investigate whether it will be allowed to set up a fighting fund to combat PEDv, according to a report in the National Pig Association’s Producer Brief.
If such a fund is foud to be feasible, the organisation body will need to consult with levypayers to see if a clear majority agree to pay, say, 10p a pig for use if PEDv arrives in Britain.
There’s no clear steer yet on how much money would be needed for a disease fund or how it would be spent, but the NPA’s Producer Group has given its blessing in principle, on the basis that containment of PEDv appears to be working in Canada, so it could work here too.
“There are a lot of don’t knows about it, including the cost, but as things stand at the moment if we found five units with PEDv tomorrow, there’s nothing we could do about it unless we had some money,” producer group member Stewart Houston said.
“It might be that the disease runs away from us and all the money in the world wouldn’t stop it, but this is about doing what the Canadians are trying to do and containing it if it gets in.”
BPEX vet Derek Armstrong has warned that if PEDv arrives in Britain and we do nothing, then we’ll see the whole country go down with it.
“It’s a case of doing our damndest in the first three months, and then if it gets ahead of us, probably we wouldn’t want to spend any more money because it would be pointless.,” he said,”but if you don’t try, you’re accepting that the whole country is going to go down with PEDv.”
The NPA says it had been thought BPEX could comparatively quickly introduce a fighting fund by resurrecting the Pig Industry Development Scheme, which was used to make welfare payments to producers in the classical swine fever outbreak of 2000. But it has now emerged that the scheme became defunct when the Meat and Livestock Commission was wound up in 2008.
BPEX is currently investigating whether there are any mechanisms for setting up a levy-funded PEDv fund under the statutory instrument that set up the AHDB. Failing that BPEX might be able to get permission from AHDB and Defra to increase the pig levy at short notice in order to contain PEDv.
If one of these options proves possible, BPEX director Mick Sloyan has said the organisation would then hold a 60-day consultation with levy-payers to see whether they support paying an extra levy. He suggested the setting up of a fund should become part of the emerging diseases contingency plan currently being formulated, and the plan itself would determine the approximate level of funding required.