Pig producers have been warned to consider the ‘very real threat’ of African swine fever (ASF) in the UK as the virus continues to spread in Europe.

In new guidance, the National Pig Association (NPA) has urged farmers to consider doing everything they can to prevent and prepare for ASF. The disease was reported in domestic pigs in 13 European countries between May 2023 and January 2024. With wild boar cases being reported in 17 countries during the same period.

Industry concerns have been heightened since December, with the revelation over the large quantities of illegally imported meat, around 75 tonnes since September 2022, being seized at the Port of Dover.

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Most of this was pork from ASF-affected parts of Europe, with the prospect that this work will be compromised due to funding cuts.

The NPA had stated its concern at Defra’s decision to slash funding for the Dover Port Health Authority for this work from April.

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson stressed that ASF remained the biggest threat to the British pig industry.

“We continue to make the case to the government for proper resources to be put in place at Dover, and other points of entry, to help ensure we keep it out.” she said.

“We also continue to seek clarity on the government’s plans and the rules that would apply in the event of an outbreak, including in relation to regionalised pork trade.

“But it is essential that everyone who works in the pork sector does their bit to keep the virus at bay and is prepared, as much as possible, in the event an outbreak.

“We urge all members to take a good look at our comprehensive guidance, which is a live document that is updated as new information comes through.”