Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie is establishing a National Feral Pig Coordinator to tackle Australia’s feral pig population as the threat of African swine fever creeps closer to Australia.
“Feral pigs cost the national agricultural sector about $14.5 million a year through production losses and that cost would balloon exponentially if African swine fever reached Australia,” Minister McKenzie said.
“As a transmitter of deadly viruses like African swine fever, infected feral pigs could carry the disease into locations of critical risk for pork producers.
“There would be widespread ramifications for Australian agriculture if our hard-earned international reputation for producing of safe, clean and green food and fibre was damaged by a disease outbreak.
“There are an estimated 25 million feral pigs roaming across 45 per cent of Australia’s landmass and the losses feral pigs cause farmers and pastoralists is even more acute during drought when water and feed is so precious.
“Now, with the heightened risk feral pigs present as a vector for disease means enough is enough.”
Northern Territory Senator McMahon has called for government action.
“We’ve listened to industry’s requests for more to be done on feral pig management and we’re acting on it, investing $1.4 million over the next three and half years to support a national feral pig coordinator,” Senator McMahon said.
“I’m excited by the opportunity for our government to work alongside our state and territory counterparts, industry, researchers, natural resource management groups and the community to ensure this is a truly national effort that reduces feral pig numbers and lessens the African swine fever risk.
“I commend Australian Pork Limited (APL) and the National Farmers' Federation for their efforts in advocating for a nationally coordinated approach to feral pig management.”
NSW Nationals Senator Davey said feral pigs did not respect borders.
“NSW has more than its fair share of feral pigs,” Senator Davey said.
“This initiative will coordinate efforts across the nation to eradicate this feral pest which is so destructive to our agricultural enterprises and our natural fauna.
“We’ve seen the success of the National Wild Dog Action Plan—and we can mirror that with this feral pig role, for the benefit of not just of the pig industry but agriculture more broadly and our beautiful environment.”
APL chief executive Margo Andrae said the coordinator would be based with the producer owned pig industry body.
“This is a crucial opportunity to get on the front foot nationally to better manage feral pig populations, both in the immediate context of protecting our industry from African swine fever and to reduce the agricultural and environmental damage feral pigs inflict across so much of the continent,” Ms Andrae said.
“We estimate an incursion of African swine fever would cost Australia more than $2 billion.
“Acting on behalf of Australia’s 2700 pig producers and the 36,000 people employed in our supply chains, industry and government are determined to stop that happening.
“This role will ensure that reliable feral pig control methods are understood and used, and strengthen the on-ground work carried out by the states.”
“The coordination and support of industry, government and the community in developing more safeguards to stop African swine fever from reaching our shores is already helping to protect our industry and a National Feral Pig Coordinator is another important way to strengthen our defences.”