The prospect of weaners being imported into Britain from the Europeanmainland could pose a serious health threat to the UK pig herd, claimsStephen Curtis, chairman of pig-breeding company ACMC Ltd.
Mr Curtis explained: “An American strain of PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) is circulating on the Continent.
“Unlike the fairly benign UK strain, this can cause severe problems, particularly with abortions, low numbers born and high pre-weaning mortality. We desperately don’t want this disease here.”
At a time when the British pig industry is recovering from a long period of recession and investing considerable sums of money in regional health schemes to improve production efficiency, it would be a retrograde step to put this at risk by importing weaners, he believes.
Further, he said that such imports could threaten the progress made in fair labelling of pork and bacon products. He said: “It throws into confusion a product’s country-of-origin. How can it be truly British pork if the pigs weren’t born here?”
He claimed that, currently, British weaner and finished pig prices are higher than those overseas and producer confidence is stronger than it has been for years. However, substantial imports of weaners could reduce prices, dent returns and damage the much needed investment which is now taking place.
He suggests that producers should organise some “serious lobbying” of MPs and slaughterer/processors through industry organisations such as the National Pig Association, British Pig Association and National Farmers Union.
“We should highlight the fact that almost 100 per cent of all pig diseases that have entered our pig herds have originated from outside mainland Britain. Industry associations should be encouraged to create our own ‘cordon sanitaire’ by refusing to import pigs from abroad,” he said.