The UK Government must introduce stronger border controls if Scotland’s pig producers are to be protected from the growing threat of African Swine Fever (ASF), NFU Scotland has warned.
Defra’s decision to increase the risk status of people bringing in the highly-contagious disease from medium to high after cases spread west across Europe to parts of Germany was a welcome development, the union said.
But it said the government should go further and introduce border control inspections on meat entering the country.
This is particularly important as new cases appear to have ‘jumped’ several hundred kilometres from previous ones – something vets think could be due to human movement with infected produce or equipment.
NFU Scotland said some supermarkets and manufacturers are currently importing meat from ASF-free regions of Germany, as well as other countries that have the disease.
Threat would devastate Scottish pig herd
However no checks are carried out on Animal Health Certifications to ensure meat is disease-free, the union said.
NFU Scotland’s pigs committee chairman Jamie Wyllie said ASF would devastate the Scottish pig herd if it reached the country, making it vital Defra closed the ‘gaping hole’ in the UK’s biosecurity.
“(The UK Government’s) plans to postpone proper border checks on food entering the UK from Europe until the end of 2023, given the rising disease threat, remain completely unacceptable,” he said.
“It must ensure checks are in place for products of animal origin entering the UK, in the same way that Europe requires checks on UK products entering the EU.”
Mr Wyllie, who farms at Ruchlaw Mains, Stenton, Dunbar, added: “Protecting our border from disease ingress and implementing proper inspection of meat being imported into our country is entirely in the UK Government’s hands.
“ASF is not in the UK and the Government should be doing everything within its powers to keep it out.”