With the African swine fever on Australia’s doorstep, farmers are getting nervous due to an estimated 24 million feral pigs living across Australia that could potentially spread the disease.
The National Farmers’ Federation has called on governments to act immediately to control the feral pig populations.
African swine fever has decimated Asian pig populations. Borders across the western hemisphere have tightened up biosecurity checks and are yet to have any known cases reported. However, it could arrive on any plane or ship from an infected country.
The Mirage News reported “Feral pigs destroy crops, degrade soil and water and spread weeds. Alarmingly they also have the potential to spread endemic and exotic diseases such as African Swine Fever,” NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.
“Specifically, we’re asking all levels of government to commit to investing in and working with industry towards the more effective control of feral pigs.”
The call comes following the confirmation of ASF in Timor Leste, barely 600 kilometres from Australia’s shores. While the Government has implemented a number of measures to reduce the risk of ASF entering Australia, the threat remains very real.
“The spread of ASF to Australia has the potential to decimate our commercial pork industry and the livelihoods of farming
families and the communities they contribute to,” Mr Mahar said.
Since the disease took hold just over 13 months age, more than 50 per cent of China’s commercial pig population has been wiped out. Analysts estimate that the world’s pig numbers have already been cut by 25 per cent.
At a meeting in Canberra last week, NFF members unanimously agreed to request that the Government invest in, and strengthen Australia’s biosecurity systems to protect primary production, the community, the environment and the economy.
“It is vital that as nation, we direct the resourcing required to deliver and continually improve the systems that safeguard agriculture from devastating pests and diseases.
“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.”
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.
“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.