Scotland worries about ASF coming to the UK

20-09-2023 | |
ASF Scotland
Photo: Canva

The discovery of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Sweden has prompted the National Farmers Union of Scotland NFUS to remind producers and the public to do all they can to prevent the disease reaching the UK.

The arrival of the virus in Sweden is the first time the country has seen ASF. The NFUS said: “Given the significant distance between the case in Sweden and other cases in Europe, it is thought that humans have been responsible for transporting the virus through food, clothing or vehicles rather than being spread by wild boar. ASF is a disease that affects only pigs, but were it to arrive in the UK, it would have a devastating impact on our pig herd.”

Growing threat of ASF

NFUS’ 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.”

Delaying border controls for animal products

NFUS refers to the decision of the UK government to further delay border controls for animal and plant products coming from the EU. Although the EU has introduced such controls for British products early in 2021, directly after Brexit, the UK still hasn’t got such controls in place.

Wyllie said, “The process is now expected to start at the end of January 2024 and be completed in October next year, which 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.”

Join 18,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the pigsector, three times a week.
Ruud Peijs International Journalist