NFU Scotland has written to the UK Government calling for immediate action to stop imports of pork from entering the UK from EU countries with confirmed cases of African Swine Fever (ASF).
The disease, which has a mortality rate of up to 100% and has no vaccine, is currently spreading across Germany, and has also been found in Belgium, Romania, and Poland.
NFU Scotland said that without action, the risk of ASF entering the UK remains high and if it does it could devastate the domestic pig sector, as occurred in China whose domestic pig herd was decimated by the disease in 2019.
In a letter written to George Eustice MP, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs on Friday 3 December, president Martin Kennedy raised the concerns of NFU Scotland members over ASF as since January 2021, no checks have been carried out on EU pork imports to the UK.
“At a time when there is a serious biosecurity risk to our country, this can’t be allowed to continue,” said Mr Kennedy. “ASF is moving fast across Europe and we have had reports that the situation is worsening. It is spreading across Germany, is in Belgium, Romania, Poland and is now not far from France”.
He called out the UK Government for having taken no action to date due to concerns about breaking compliance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
“We have been told that action would be permitted if Europe is having difficulties in controlling disease outbreaks. Following discussions with European colleagues, this is clearly now the case,” he said.
“I am in no doubt that should the situation have been reversed, our exports would have been stopped entering Europe many weeks ago”
“I urge you to take action to prevent devastation to our pig sector and stop imports of pork from EU countries with ASF with immediate effect. Unless action is taken soon, the serious risk of ASF entering the UK remains. The UK Government must act quickly. Around 40% of the meat consumed in the UK is pork and the economic output of pig farmers in Scotland is significant”.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “Due to the nature of the trade agreement that we have with the EU where regionalisation is recognised, an outright ban would be difficult to implement at present.
“However, the NPA is urging all retailers to favour British pork over EU imports, not only to support British pig producers during their time of crisis but to provide consumers with safe, traceable, high welfare assured British product.
“We are also working with closely with Government and partner organisations to ensure measures are in place which reduce the likelihood of the disease reaching the UK. ASF is a very real threat to the British pig industry and the wider farming sector and we must do all we can to prevent it getting to the UK.”