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“No one can bring a ham sandwich to work” | Farmers take action to stop devastating disease

Rural News

Pig farmers across the country are nervous, as one of the worst diseases farming has ever seen gets closer to the Australian border.

African Swine Fever has been detected in East Timor, and has already decimated pig populations throughout Asia.

It has killed pigs in upward of 50 countries, China the most impacted where more than 200 million pigs are expected to die.

The virus has a fatality rate of more than 80 percent, and it’s estimated a quarter of the world’s pigs will be killed by the disease this year.

Victorian Farmers Federation Pig Group President Tim Kingma has told Macquarie’s Rural Reporter Eddie Summerfield, it’d be catastrophic if the disease made it onto Australian farms.

“If African Swine Fever was to come onto my farm, I’d lose every pig, there’s no cure, there’s no vaccine,” Mr Kingma said.

The threat of the virus is seeing farmers taking drastic actions to protect their animals.

“We’re a lot stricter now for what comes on farm, every visitor or every worker that comes on has to have a shower, they put of our own clothes on, our boots on so nothing from the outside,” Mr Kingma said.

“We’ve also banned pork products from coming in, so no one can bring a ham sandwich to work.”

The Federal Government is bolstering biosecurity efforts at international airports, with sniffer dogs urgently being sent to Darwin to detect any pork products.

The increased response since August has seen 100 kilograms of illegal pork products seized at the boarder every week.

While the government’s recent announcement is welcome, Tim Kingma would like to see more stringent measures.

“In my perfect world, every single person that comes into Australia we’re testing them for products that could spread diseases.”

As the global supply of pork products continues to rapidly shrink, driving up prices, consumers are being told to ensure they’re buying Australian pork products to mitigate the risk of African Swine Fever spreading here.

“If you buy ham off the bone, whether it’s a Christmas ham, or for your kids sandwiches in their school lunches, that’s supporting Aussies, that’s not importing pork products,” Mr Kingma said.

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