10 September 2001
Pig men join illegal-import push

By FWi staff

THE National Pig Association has joined a campaign by leading UK farming unions to petition government on illegal imports of food, animals and plants.

Controls at ports and airports on illegal imports that threaten to cause further disease outbreaks in the UK are “dismally under-funded and under-staffed” the NPA says.

The petition aims to mobilise public opinion to force the government to close the door on this “fatal flaw” in UKs defence system, the NPA website explains.

The petition, launched by the NFU of England and Wales and NFU Scotland will be handed into the government at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton on 1 October.

The NPA is furious that little has been done to tighten up controls despite illegally imported meat being blamed on the recent foot-and-mouth and swine-fever outbreaks.

The association claims F&M is costing the pig industry 3m a week and has already 70m. An average 300-sow farm is losing 8300 a month and has lost 49,800 over the past six months, according to an NPA investigation.

The biggest cost is the export ban which has led to a reduction in slaughter pig prices of 10p-13p/kg and a collapse in cull sow price. Movement restrictions and extra labour, vet, haulage and feed bills have added to the burden.

Yet the national pig herd remains clear of the virus, the association says.

Fewer than 27,000 pigs have been slaughtered on infected premises, compared with over half a million cattle and nearly a million sheep.

NPA producer group chairman Stewart Houston said suggestions that UK farming methods are to blame for the crisis are unwelcome and unhelpful.

Thinly-veiled accusations that pig farmers are somehow doing all right out of the outbreak have added to the strain on pig producers, he said.

“The NPA strongly believes that the Government should devote more resources, as a matter of urgency, to preventing diseases entering the country in the first place,” he said.

“Our governments controls are lax to the point of negligence – and that is how foot-and-mouth arrived in the UK.”

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Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage