21 Jul 2021

African swine fever in Germany raises fears of infection in New Zealand herds

11:18 am on 21 July 2021

There's alarm in New Zealand's pork industry following the discovery of the devastating pig disease, African Swine Fever, in Germany's commercial pig farms.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The disease forced China, the world's largest pig producer, to cull about half its herd after an outbreak two years ago.

NZ Pork chief executive David Baines said Germany now found the disease had gone from its wild herds into commercial farms.

Germany is the EU's largest pork exporter, with product coming to New Zealand.

Baines said it would only take infected product being fed to pigs here for it to spread.

There are rules around feeding scraps but, with nearly 5000 non-commercial herds in the country, it could slip through, he said.

"We see that as the big risk, the disease could land through infected imported products being fed through the waste food chain to pigs.

"You imagine if it gets established in the wild pig population of New Zealand, it would be impossible to eradicate the disease."

Baines said there were commercial farms that operated outdoors in close proximity to areas where wild pigs were located.

"If the disease is established in the wild population that could present an extreme risk to our farmers."

David Baines says about 20 percent of our pork imports already come from African Swine Fever infected countries but The Ministry for Primary Industries, MPI has told producers it is comfortable that risk is being managed,

We rely on MPI to protect the sector he said.

"MPI will have some protocols established in terms of how they trust the the German equivalent of MPI, to manage that risk.

"We don't want the disease here so we're having ongoing conversations with MPI saying that, you know, we need to make sure our borders are very tight, and the product coming in is carefully and properly screened."

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