NPA calls for a number of steps to prevent and prepare for ASF
13th Oct 2023 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA is calling for a number of steps from Government to prevent and prepare for an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).
ASF continues to spread in Europe with the last few months seeing the arrival of the virus for the first time in Sweden and cases in domestic pigs for the first time in Northern Italy, while various countries in the Balkans have been battling major outbreaks.
The British pig sector's concerns have been exacerbated by the constant delays in implementing proper border checks on EU meat imports, the latest of which has put the introduction of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) back from October until well into next year. In a response to a letter from NPA chairman Rob Mutimer, Farming Minister Mark Spencer gave no intention of introducing new checks in the meantime.
The NPA is also concerned at a lack of preparedness in the event that ASF does reach the UK pig herd, for example, on APHA's response plans and the implications for UK pork exports.
In a briefing to MPs, the NPA has spelled out the industry's needs:
- No further delays on checks for goods entering the UK from the EU.
- Improved and increased border controls for meat imports (sniffer dogs etc. at ports/airports/Eurotunnel and postal hubs). We also need better communications, including messaging at points of entry, to emphasise the risks of bringing in meat products.
- A review of APHA resource and available expertise to ensure it has the capability to respond quickly and effectively to notifiable disease outbreaks, particularly as the on-going Avian Influenza prevalence means that we could very conceivably see concurrent outbreaks of two different notifiable diseases. The 2022 Public Accounts Committee report on APHA’s Weybridge laboratory highlighted this critical issue.
- We urgently need to agree a plan for regionalisation with our trading partners to ensure that unaffected parts of the UK could still export pork in the event of an outbreak.
Members can view and download the briefing HERE and are encouraged to use it if you are meeting your MP.