NFU Scotland has reminded producers and the public to do all they can to prevent African swine fever (ASF) reaching the UK, following the discovery of the devastating pig virus in Sweden.
The arrival of the virus in Sweden for the first time, which has resulted in various export bans, is thought to have occurred as a result of humans transporting the virus through food, clothing or vehicles, rather than being spread by wild boar, given the significant distance between the case in Sweden and other cases in Europe.
ASF has also recently been found in domestic pigs in Italy for the first time and is spreading rapidly in the Balkans.
NFUS stressed that, while ASF is a disease that affects only pigs, it would have a devastating impact on our pig herd were it to arrive in the UK. It is, therefore, reiterating three key messages:
- For the public – Don’t bring pork products into the country for personal consumption or resale.
- For farmers – Revisit your biosecurity measures around visitors and food waste.
- For the UK Government – Protect our Borders!
NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chair, Jamie Wyllie said: “The growing threat of ASF on mainland Europe continues to loom over all pig producers in the UK. The impact and severity on our pig herd, were ASF to reach these shores, cannot be underestimated.
“At farm level, biosecurity remains our first line of defence and producers need to consider who and what they allow on their farm. For the public, we urge them to comply with the requirement that no pork products should be brought into the UK for personal consumption.
“And for the UK Government, it needs to understand the potential consequences of its lax approach to introducing proper post-Brexit border controls.
“Recent confirmation that it is to further delay border controls on animal and plant products imported from the EU, with the process now expected to start at the end of January 2024 and be completed in October next year, is seriously disappointing and continues to leave pig producers exposed to the introduction of ASF.
“Without proper Border checks and enforcement, we have little chance of stopping this disease. The UK Government still insists ASF is a medium risk when reporting disease but without Border controls and the disease still spreading in Europe, NFU Scotland believes this should be moved to high.”
Prior to ASF being recorded in Sweden, according to the International Disease Monitoring report for Europe in August, outbreaks of ASF in domestic pigs have been reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina (326), Croatia (95), Italy (4), Latvia (3), Moldova (4), Poland (2), Romania (102), Russia (8), Serbia (353) and Ukraine (4). Cases of ASF in wild boar have been reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina (3), Czech Republic (7), Germany (8), Hungary (22), Italy (31), Latvia (200), Poland (106), Republic of North Macedonia (2), Romania (3), Russia (3), Serbia (17) and Ukraine (1).