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Minister admits ASF outbreak in UK likely within a year
UK risk set at medium which means an outbreak expected within a year.
National Pig Association exposes government complacency

The National Pig Association (NPA) has called for a more robust approach from Defra and the UK port authorities to keeping African swine fever (ASF) out of the UK, after the Government admitted an outbreak of the disease is likely within a year. This admission came from Farming Minister, George Eustice, as he responded to a letter from NPA chairman, Richard Lister.

Commenting on the Government’s efforts to keep ASF out of the country, Mr Eustice said: “The UK risk level is currently set at medium, which means an outbreak is expected within a year.”

He claimed Defra and the Devolved authorities are actively working with UK Border Force to improve intelligence sharing and detect and seize illegal imports and to raise awareness amongst travellers about the risks of bringing in potentially infected animal products.

Responding to this statement, NPA chief executive, Zoe Davies, said: “We don’t think UK Border Force is taking this seriously enough. We are not seeing the posters being displayed with any consistency or prominence at ports and airports and there has been little interest shown in helping Defra to promote these crucial messages.

“The authorities in England are lagging behind the Devolved authorities, which have been far more proactive in displaying posters and checking baggage. For example, checks in Northern Ireland in June resulted in the seizure of 300kg of illegally imported meat and dairy products and the worrying discovery of the ASF virus in sausages.

“But in England, we haven’t seen any posters at all and Border Force has stated that they do not intend to carry out targeted baggage checks. There are also only two sniffer dogs deployed across the entire country, which is woefully inadequate. We have called for more, but are told it is too expensive.

“If a Government Minister really thinks the virus will be here within a year, it is patently obvious that more resource and effort is needed to keep it out. And Border Force needs to demonstrate that it understands the scale of the threat.”

ASF has wiped out almost half of China’s pig herd since last August, which equates to the entire EU production. An ASF outbreak would have a devastating impact, not only on the UK pig sector, but also on the many families and businesses that rely on rural trade.  The Government has estimated it could cost the country £90m – which the NPA believes is a gross underestimate because it does not take into account the loss of export markets, currently worth £470 million a year.

 

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Do you know a practice wellbeing star?

News Story 1
 Has someone in your practice team gone above and beyond to make your workplace a positive one during the coronavirus pandemic? Then why not nominate them for a 2020 Practice Wellbeing Star!

The joint RCVS Mind Matters Initiative/SPVS Practice Wellbeing Star nominations recognise individuals who have held up morale during a time when practices are facing unprecedented staffing and financial issues.

Nominees receive a certificate in recognition of their colleagues' appreciation of their achievements and will be entered into the prize draw for a pair of tickets to attend the joint SPVS and Veterinary Management Group Congress in January 2021.

 

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News Shorts
WellVet reopens ticket sales to online conference platform

Following the success of its online conference, the organisers behind WellVet Weekend have re-opened ticket sales to allow new delegates to access session recordings and its online networking platform.

The day-long conference saw more than 360 veterinary professionals mix activity sessions with personal development CPD, all hosted within a virtual conference platform. Now, with more than 500 minutes of CPD available, the resource is being re-opened to allow full access to the session recordings until May 2021.

Sessions are aimed at providing delegates with a range of proactive wellbeing tools to explore to find ways of improving their mental and physical health. Tickets are limited in number and on sale at wellvet.co.uk until 30th August 2020.