Agriculture minister wants to make sure the country is ‘doing all it can’
Australia’s agriculture minister is looking for ways to further ramp up the country’s biosecurity in an effort to keep African swine fever (ASF) from entering its borders.
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie held an emergency roundtable of experts this week in Canberra to identify what more can be done to keep the deadly pig disease out.
“African swine fever is potentially the biggest animal disease event the world has ever seen and it’s marching south through Asia, towards Australia,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep this disease out so we can safeguard Australia’s 2,700 pig producers, the 36,000 jobs that rely on their businesses, and all those millions of Australians who enjoy eating our safe, high-quality bacon and pork.”
Since ASF was first detected in China more than a year ago, the disease has spread across Asia and parts of Europe.
McKenzie said the government has ramped up inspections of people and packages arriving from countries affected by ASF. Since security was increased, the government has seized 23 tons of pork from ASF-affected countries; of the seized pork that was tested, about 15% was positive for the ASF virus, McKenzie said.
“We’ve suspended trade of high-risk pig products from affected countries and we’ve banned travelers bringing in pork jerky from all countries,” she said. “But more can be done if we partner with industry.”
McKenzie said Australia exports less than 10% of its pig meat by value, therefore, “Australian consumers would be hard hit should the unthinkable happen to our pork industry.
“We need everyone to take biosecurity seriously and make sure they don’t become a vector for a disease that could decimate our domestic pig industry and way of life by doing the right thing when bringing things into the country,” she said.
View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.