High-scoring Pig Health Scheme under Spotlight Today

UK - BPEX board members will today (15 January 2014) discuss the future of the British Pig Health Scheme — which attracts highly polarised opinions.
calendar icon 15 January 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

Some producers rate it very highly indeed as a source of essential health information, whilst others take a different view.

For its part, NPA Producer Group appears unanimous that high quality carcase feedback from BPHS vets is an essential weapon in the struggle to maintain good herd health.

Producer Group members insist the scheme should on no account be scrapped — unless it is replaced with something very nearly as as good.

In total, the scheme costs levy-payers just short of £0.5m a year and BPEX is arguing this cost could be saved if CCIR (Collection and Communication of Inspection Results) data from meat inspectors were used instead.

"When we set up BPHS we said it was meant to be a stepping-stone between good quality data and useful meat inspection data," said BPEX chief Mick Sloyan.

He pointed out that producers were paying £6m-£9m a year in meat inspection costs, but acknowledged that at present the data collected was not good enough to replace BPHS data.

"It has been proposed that BPEX fixes a timetable for transition between BPHS in its current format and usable quality CCIR," he told Thursday's meeting of NPA Producer Group. "There are a range of views on what that timetable should be.

"The trade-off is to get adequate quality information on every single pig that gets killed, everywhere, compared with the current situation with BPHS, where we get high quality data on a relatively small amount of pigs."

BPEX board members envisaged a structure that would enable producers to use CCIR data to spot when further pig health investigation should take place.

"But don't under-estimate the challenge. Trying to change the culture of meat inspection will not be easy."

Vet Annie Davis told NPA Producer Group that the surveillance function of BPHS was pivotal to preventing serious disease from spreading, and CCIR in its current form could not be trusted.

In the south-west "many, many" cases of swine dysentery had been prevented through being picked up at an early stage, she said.

And producer Charlie Allen insisted that producers must continue to have access to good quality information.

Noting the strong views being expressed, Richard Longthorp (a BPEX board member) said, "It seems to be pretty unanimous from Producer Group that we keep BPHS, but there will be people on the BPEX board who take a different view, I suspect.

"There are a range of views on this subject and what is always difficult in this industry is picking out the right and most relevant view. There are some very polarised positions."

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