Pig farmers warned about swine fever coming to UK

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Anthea McIntyre, former MEP for the West Midlands, used her last speech in the parliament’s agriculture committee to raise concerns over the spread of the disease and how disastrous it would be to the British pig population if it spread to the UK.

She explained the enormous concern of pig farmers on the edge of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, home to a large population of wild boar.

She said: “Britain was scarred forever by the devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 when over 6 million cows and sheep were killed.

“Farmers in my area are very aware of the potential dangers of an outbreak of ASF.”

She went on to describe the circumstances for a local farmer who breeds Middle White pigs. “These pigs are a very rare breed.

“In fact, they are more rare than the giant panda! An outbreak of ASF could completely wipe out the Middle White breed.

“ASF can be brought into a country through contaminated meat products, maybe in a sandwich, and it is then spread by wild boar. I do not believe that the authorities are doing enough to control the wild boar population in the Forest of Dean.

“The importance of bio security is very well recognised, but it is just not possible for every farmer to protect their farms from the encroachment of wild boar. The practicality of keeping wild boar out, as I know for myself, is just about impossible.”

The Committee heard that ASF affects wild boar and domestic pigs and kills 100 per cent of infected animals.