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Pig farming at risk of deadly disease

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Pig farming at risk of deadly disease

A LOCKERBIE farmer yesterday warned that the British pig farming industry could be wiped out unless strict measures are taken to prevent a deadly virus infecting livestock.

Fraser Shaw, who runs Dryfeholm Farm, has serious concerns about African Swine Fever (ASF) reaching our shores and decimating pigs.

This virus is currently spreading across Europe, and has already led to the culling of millions of pigs and major disruption to the meat trade.

Following a huge outbreak in China in 2018 where 100 million pigs had to be slaughtered, ASF is now considered the world’s biggest animal disease outbreak.

And Fraser, who has a herd of 500 pigs and produces beef, lamb and specially-selected pork at Dryfeholm Farm, is seriously worried.

While the UK government introduced some border controls in September to try and protect Britain’s pig sector, he argues that more needs to be done.

A spokesman for the NFU on the issue, Fraser said: “We don’t have it in Scotland, or indeed Britain, yet. But it’s in Belgium, Italy, France, and Germany. It’s spreading among their wild boar and then infecting some of their farmed herds.

“The real issue is that we’re bringing in meat from the continent and there are zero border checks on it. African Swine Fever can effectively pass in that meat.”

He explained how infected foreign meat could come into contact with

Scotland’s 5000 wild boar, or farmed animals, and spread quickly.

Fraser said: “The British (pig) herd has declined by roughly 20 percent in the last year through lack of profitability amongst other things.

“If African Swine Fever does get here, it could lead to total extinction of British pig farming.

“This raises even bigger questions about food production in Scotland. Do we want to just grow trees, shut our eyes to everything else, and import all our food from other countries?”

ASF is harmless to humans but is often fatal in swine.


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