22 August 2000
Lifting of ban gives pig farmers hope
by FWi staff
PIG farmers believe that the lifting of the export ban on English pigs could signal an early end to other restrictions put in place to control swine fever.
The ban on exports of live pigs and boar semen should be reduced to the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, Brussels said on Tuesday (22 August).
The lifting of the week-old ban on shipments was proposed by the European Commission. It is expected to be formally ratified on Friday (25 August).
Pig breeding companies outside East Anglia will now be able to resume trade worth an estimated 30m in 1999, according to the National Pig Association.
Ian Campbell, the associations regional manager, said he felt that the move had increased the chance that restriction zones would soon be lifted.
Surveillance areas have prevented livestock from being moved off any farm with pigs around five infected units confirmed with swine fever in East Anglia.
Around 1000 farms with healthy livestock claim they are being crippled by the restrictions and other rules governing meat sales once pigs are free to move.
The Ministry of Agriculture must now convince the European Union that the disease is fully under control before those surveillance zones can be lifted.
However, Mr Campbell said he felt that Jim Scudamore, the governments chief veterinary officer had a strong case that the outbreak had been contained.
“Jim Scudamore has clearly put forward a strong case that the outbreak has been contained to within a single production pyramid,” he said.
John Godfrey, NPA chairman, said the end of the export ban was “a vote of confidence” in the work of the Ministry of Agriculture vets in the UK.
He told Farmers Weekly: “It shows that the EU vets believe that the UK Government has the disease outbreak under control.”
Andrew Garvey, who is leading the Meat and Livestock Commissions team dealing with the crisis, said it confirmed that control measures were effective.
“Resumption of live exports from areas not directly affected by the outbreak will bring some much needed relief to Britains hard pressed pig farmers,” he said.