Weekly Overview: David Black Award Winner Calls for Science Based Approach to Biosecurity

ANALYSIS - The UK's new David Black award winner called this week for a more science based approach to biosecurity.
calendar icon 9 November 2015
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Andrew Knowles, who picked up the British pig industry David Black award for his contribution to the sector on Wednesday 4 November at a ceremony at the House of Lords in London, said he was concerned that the industry was not taking the same approach to questions of biosecurity as the pig industry in other countries in Europe.

He added that pig farmers on the continent “get much more support and advice”.

“The UK industry’s approach to biosecurity must be based on fact and science,” Mr Knowles said.

“Let us remember who our customer is, but let us not base our approach on myth, perception and wrong thinking.”

In other UK news, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is one of four government departments which has provisionally agreed to cut its spending by an average of 30 per cent over the next four years.

The cuts caused concern at the British Veterinary Association and the NFU.

BVA President Sean Wensley said: "In recent years we have already seen the impact of significant cuts to Defra's budget on veterinary fees for TB testing and other OV services and on disease surveillance.

"Our major concern is that more cuts in these areas could further erode the UK's preparedness for a disease outbreak, which could have massive implications for animal and human health, animal welfare and the reputation of UK agriculture.

NFU President Meurig Raymond also warned that any cuts to the budget must not impact the department’s responsibilities for driving through its food and farming strategy, animal health, flooding and its payment functions.

Mr Raymond said: “Our priority is for farming businesses to be productive and profitable and we are concerned that cuts of up to 30 per cent could damage front line delivery services that underpin this aim. That is why we believe that Defra should first seek savings in ‘back office’ functions rather than reducing spending on areas that are key to our members, such as animal health, flood protection and a fully functioning Rural Payments system."

In disease news, new research on behalf of the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative has shown that the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus can survive over the Canadian winter in earthen manure storage.

MLMMI executive director John Carney stated that the work proved that the virus could live at least 28 days in the cold - very worryingly even in Manitoba's minus 30 winters.

Uruguay has reported an outbreak of brucellosis on a pig farm in Canelones, El Colorado. Of the 663 pigs susceptible, 41 cases were reported.

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