4 January 2001
Pig leader defends fever action

By FWi staff

A LEADING pig industry figure has rejected accusations that the outbreak of swine fever in East Anglia was mishandled.

The majority of restrictions on farmers affected by the outbreak have been lifted, and it has emerged that only 16 individual units had the disease.

But despite this small number, the slaughter programme introduced last autumn saw 250,000 animals killed – 5% of the national herd.

National Pig Association regional manager Ian Campbell denied that there had been an over-reaction to the problem.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme figures were low because farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture had worked to contain the outbreak.

He praised farmers for maintaining a responsible attitude despite extreme financial pressure. “Under extremely difficult circumstances they did not move their pigs.”

Mr Campbell said it grieved him that 182,000 animals were killed to stop overcrowding and because they were too big, but were not used for food.

But EU legislation meant the meat would have to be heat-treated before it could end up in the marketplace, he explained.

There was neither the heat-treatment facilities nor the market in the UK for heat-treated pigmeat, said Mr Campbell.