The first UK case of Classical Swine Fever (CSF) since 12 August has been confirmed on a farm in Norfolk, where about 1,000 pigs will now be slaughtered over the next two days. Mike Sheldon, Chief Executive of the National Pig Association (NPA) said, “The impact of the news is shattering.”
The original source of CSF is unknown, but epidemiologists from the Ministry of Agriculture believe that the first herd became infected in mid-June. The disease is not zoonotic, but the virus can replicate in sheep and cattle, and it is known that “local spread” occurs relatively easily between farms less than 1km apart.
The Norfolk farm is situated within a designated surveillance zone, now defined as an ‘infected area’ by a Declaratory Order, which restricts the movement of pigs and other animals. The maintenance of welfare standards has led to the destruction of thousands of healthy animals over the last few months, which could not be moved from the CSF control areas. Nick Brown, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, claimed the measures are imperative to protect the whole industry from the spread of the disease, but they are making the issue of compensation for the farmers difficult.
Pig farmers who found their businesses affected have recently sought a £2 increase in the allocated compensation. Sheldon argued, “The financial support of £35 a pig announced by Nick Brown gravely underestimated the seriousness of the situation, even before this new case.” John Godfrey, Chairman of the NPA, and Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, support his comments. In a joint statement they said, “£100 would only just have reflected the market value and costs of keep.”
Nick Brown believed that it was essential that livestock farmers took out insurance against the outbreak of animal diseases, but in the meantime Shadow Agricultural Minister Tim Yeo believes he is effectively signing the death warrants for many pig farming businesses.
The outbreak in Norfolk has been reported to the EU Commission and was discussed at a Standing Veterinary Committee meeting today. Meanwhile, the public is advised by the Food Standards Agency that CFS poses no threat to consumers.
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