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AustralianFarmers

Farmers call for feral pig cull

The National Farmers’ Federation has called on Government to act immediately to control Australia’s feral pig population as the threat of African swine fever looms.

Australia has a feral pig population of about 24 million and with the rapid transmission rate of ASF across most of Europe and Asia, the alarmingly high population is a growing threat to Australia’s $5.3 billion pork industry.

“We just continue to find more and more products coming in illegally that shouldn’t be, and we need people to actually take this seriously,” Pork Australia CEO Margo Andrae said.

“If this virus gets in, it does actually wipe out the domestic pig industry, and if it gets into the feral pig population, it will be incredibly hard to contain.”

While the disease is not harmful to humans, it kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and has already claimed a quarter of the world’s pig population with 200 million pigs in China alone expected to be wiped out by the end of this year.

At a meeting in Canberra last week, NFF members moved a motion calling on the Government to invest in, and strengthen Australia’s biosecurity systems to protect primary production, the community, the environment and the economy.  

“It is vital that as a nation, we direct the resourcing required to deliver and continually improve the systems that safeguard agriculture from potentially devastating pests and diseases,” NFF CEO Mr Mahar said.

“As the risk of major biosecurity threats to Australia continue to grow, the systems that keep Australia free of the world’s worst pests and diseases must be absolute.”

Following the increased threat to Australia, the federal government have increased border controls, deploying a detector dog to Darwin and suspending the trade of pork products from affected countries.

Since increased checks were introduced in November last year, border officials have seized 27 tonnes of pork in illegal pork products from travellers entering Australia, 15 per cent of which were found to be infected with swine fever. 

Following calls for tightened biosecurity measures from Minister for Agriculture, Bridge McKenzie, a Vietnamese woman was deported last week for smuggling nearly 5 kilograms worth of raw pork into Sydney airport. The woman was the first overseas traveller to be deported under strict new quarantine laws intended to keep African swine fever out of the country.

Mr Mahar said ASF was a frightening reminder of what could happen without rigorous safeguards and more needed to be done now to bolster biosecurity. 

“If we don’t step up our biosecurity systems, ASF and other pests and diseases could destroy our agricultural industries and compromise our access to key international markets that value the clean, safe status of our produce,” Mr Mahar said.

“Our unique natural environment and way of life are also at risk if unwanted pests and diseases are allowed to enter and establish in Australia.”

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