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Pork industry moves to contain disease

The New Zealand pork industry is about to embark on a major course of action to prevent the spread of the pig disease PMWS (Post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome) in this country.

Although there are no human health or food safety issues associated with the disease, overseas experience has shown it can spread rapidly among pig herds devastating production.

In recent weeks the disease has been confirmed on one farm and provisionally confirmed on another two, all in the northern half of the North Island.

The New Zealand Pork Industry Board held a series of producer meetings throughout the country last week to determine a course of action for the industry. Approximately 200 farmers representing 80% of production unanimously agreed on a course of action to depopulate the affected farms in order to contain the outbreak with a view to eradicating PMWS.

The Board’s Chief Executive, Angus Davidson said that whilst the disease is endemic in pork producing nations throughout the world, no other country has attempted such a programme of containment or eradication.

“Expert epidemiologists and veterinarians have led our industry to believe that we have a 50% chance of containing and possibly eradicating the disease, therefore we must at least attempt this course of action,” he said.

He said that having been given this mandate, the Board, on behalf of the pork industry, has commenced negotiations with the owners of the affected properties to depopulate these farms.

“I have spoken to all three owners, and they all agree in principle to commence commercial negotiations with the Board on behalf of the industry, to work towards reaching an outcome satisfactory to all parties,” Angus Davidson said.

The industry-led initiative is being supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which is implementing stock movement control between the North and South Island and funding a further active surveillance programme in the South Island.

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