With the number of African Swine Fevers rises among wild boar Germany, NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chairman Jamie Wyllie has urged the Government and farmers to take the disease more seriously so prevent against it spreading into the UK.
ASF can do a lot of damage to a country’s domestic pig herds in a short space of time, and now the disease, which causes up to 100 per cent mortality in pigs and has no known cure, has been creeping closer to home through Asia and Eastern Europe.
Mr Wyllie said: “Imagine that a disease, causing 100 per cent mortality, got into the pig population, immediately removing all the pork products from our supermarket shelves?
“Maybe I am being sensationalist, but someone has to be.”
He points to China as an example, which saw as many as 300 million pigs culled as the disease took hold, decimating the countries pig herd, speculating how the disease could hit the UK: “I don’t think it is unrealistic that a large majority of farms in the UK would probably get infected, and fairly quickly, devastate home pig production.”
Government ‘not doing enough’
Mr Wyllie said that the government is ‘well aware’ of the threat of ASF, with officials estimating it could spread from one end of the country to the other in about a month – but that they are not doing enough to stop it coming in.
He pointed out, saying more needs to be done at the border. “There is still minimal, if any, signage at transport links telling people not to bring meat in, No questions are asked on arrival in the UK about pig contact. I was in Canada last year and they had a declaration on your landing card just for ASF, I of course ticked the box as I had been in pig contact and was ushered into a side aisle for extra questioning. They take it seriously.”
And he said that it’s not just the Government who do not grasp the risk of the disease: “I still come across farmers who have a few pigs and still feed them swill from the kitchen. It is illegal to feed any foodstuff that has entered a kitchen to pigs because of the risk of cross contamination, even potato peelings.
“When will those with the power to implement change wake up and do something? Maybe only once the disease enters the UK, but by then it will be too late. Until then, fellow pig farmers; batten down the hatches, close the gates and get ready for the storm.”