Ex­perts bat­tle swine fever

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly -

AUS­TRALIA’S biose­cu­rity sys­tem has been stepped up to counter the threat African swine fever poses with Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Brid­get McKen­zie con­ven­ing an emer­gency roundtable of ex­perts this week to iden­tify if more can be done to stop the disease en­ter­ing the coun­try.

“African swine fever is po­ten­tially the big­gest an­i­mal disease event the world has ever seen and it’s march­ing south through Asia, to­wards Aus­tralia,” Ms McKen­zie said.

“The disease doesn’t pose a threat to hu­man health but kills about 80 per cent of pigs it in­fects.

“There’s no vac­cine and no cure for this highly con­ta­gious disease.

“Some es­ti­mates sug­gest China’s pig herd has de­creased by 30 per cent since African swine fever ar­rived which may in­crease to 50 per cent by the end of 2019 — that would be a loss of 200 mil­lion pigs — one in four of the world’s pigs.

“We need to make sure we’re do­ing all we can to keep this disease out so we can safe­guard Aus­tralia’s 2700 pig proof duc­ers, the 36,000 jobs that rely on their busi­nesses, and all those mil­lions of Aus­tralians who en­joy eat­ing our safe, high qual­ity ba­con and pork.”

Ms McKen­zie said the gov­ern­ment had al­ready ramped up in­spec­tions of peo­ple and mail ar­riv­ing from coun­tries af­fected by African swine fever.

“We’ve sus­pended trade of high risk pig prod­ucts from af­fected coun­tries and we’ve banned trav­ellers bring­ing in pork jerky from all coun­tries,” she said. “But more can be done if we part­ner with in­dus­try.”

Ms McKen­zie said since in­creas­ing bor­der checks 23 tonnes of pork from African swine fever coun­tries had been seized and of the pork tested about 15 per cent was pos­i­tive for the virus.

“I have called an emer­gency roundtable to tackle the threat African swine fever with live­stock, meat, stock­feed, food and bev­er­age in­dus­try lead­ers, mar­ket an­a­lysts and Chief Ve­teri­nary Of­fi­cers on Septem­ber 6,” she said.

“Less than 10 per cent of Aus­tralia’s pig meat by value is des­tined for over­seas mar­kets. Aus­tralian con­sumers would be hard hit should the un­think­able hap­pen to our pork in­dus­try.

“Biose­cu­rity touches us all in un­der­pin­ning the safety of the food we eat, in agri­cul­ture’s con­tri­bu­tion to the na­tional econ­omy as well as the economies in re­gional ar­eas, and in main­tain­ing our way of life.

“The threats to the sys­tem are real and de­serve proper re­sourc­ing and na­tional at­ten­tion. Biose­cu­rity should be men­tioned along with de­fence and home af­fairs as safeguardi­ng the na­tion.

“We need ev­ery­one to take biose­cu­rity se­ri­ously and make sure they don’t be­come a vec­tor for a disease that could dec­i­mate our do­mes­tic pig in­dus­try and way of life by do­ing the right thing when bring­ing things into the coun­try.”

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

BIOSE­CU­RITY RISK: Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Brid­get McKen­zie con­ven­ing an emer­gency roundtable of ex­perts to iden­tify if more can be done to stop African Swine Fever.

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