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"I wouldn't want anyone to go through what we went through" - see Zoe discuss ASF on Countryfile

21st Jan 2019 / By Alistair Driver

CSF 2000 CF

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies discussed her personal horror of dealing with a major pig disease outbreak, as Countryfile focused on the threat posed by African swine fever (ASF) on Sunday night. 

Presenter Tom Heap pulled no punches as he warned that the virus, which has spread across Europe over the past few years, could wipe out the pig industry if it reaches the UK. 

He spoke to Wye Valley farmer Richard Vaughan, who owns half of the country's Middle White herd, and is deeply concerned by the proximity of feral boar in the Forest of Dean. He called for proactive measures to control the population before it is too late, stressing that an ASF outbreak would be disastrous for pig farms like his own. 

Countryfile ASF ZoeThis message was endorsed by Zoe, who called for the Government to review its 'horribly out of date' feral boar action plan, which rates the risk of ASF incursion as 'negligible'.  

She gave a personal account of her experience of working on the first farm to be identified with Classical swine fever in Suffolk in 2000. 

"We had 3,500 pigs on site at the time and every singe one had to be culled as a result of the disease. It was the worst experience of my like and I wouldn't anyone to have to through what we went through," she said. 

The feature went to look at how the virus has been spreading in Europe and how it could enter the UK. It also looks at possible solutions, including, with the help of PVS president Duncan Berkshire, the potential of gene-editing technology to develop pigs that are resistant to ASF. 

It is well worth a view.

The feature is available on iPlayer, from 12m35s, here

NPA is urging producers with outdoor pigs in particular to put up signage in paddocks next to public footpaths and with public rights of way, telling people not to feed the pigs due to risk of spreading disease.

Free signs are available from AHDB Pork. Email: 

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