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Plea for pork imports ban over swine fever fears

The disease has been detected across Germany, and has also been found in Belgium, Romania, and Poland.

As African Swine Fever (ASF) spreads across Europe, the farmers’ union has called for a ban on pork imports from EU countries with confirmed cases of the disease.

The disease has been detected across Germany, and has also been found in Belgium, Romania, and Poland, leading NFU Scotland (NFUS) to warn of its potential to enter the UK and decimate the industry.

In a letter written to Defra Secretary, George Eustice, union president Martin Kennedy called for immediate action to halt imports.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy has written to George Eustice.

He said: “Since January 2021, no checks have been carried out on EU pork imports to the UK. At a time when there is a serious biosecurity risk to our country, this can’t be allowed to continue.

“The UK Government has taken no action to date due to concerns about breaking compliance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. We have been told that action would be permitted if Europe is having difficulties in controlling disease outbreaks. Following discussions with European colleagues, this is clearly now the case.

“I am in no doubt that should the situation have been reversed, our exports would have been stopped entering Europe many weeks ago.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “EU countries affected by African Swine Fever cannot export pork or pork products from affected regions unless under very specific circumstances.

Pork accounts for around 40% of the meat consumed in the UK.

“While African Swine Fever is currently circulating in eastern Europe, the risk level for an incursion into the UK remains at medium. This risk assessment is kept under review.”

“African Swine Fever remains the UK’s key priority in terms of exotic notifiable animal diseases. We have never had an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the UK, but continue to prepare for the eventuality, monitoring outbreaks in trading partners and taking action where appropriate.”

Publicity campaigns are in place in the UK to inform the public and discourage people from bringing pork products into UK. This includes targeted messages to key stakeholders such as road hauliers, hunters, pig keepers and vets.

Around 40% of the meat consumed in the UK is pork.

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