Amid ongoing fears about the disease and environmental risks from feral pigs, Canberra has appointed Dr Heather Channon as Australia's first national feral pig management co-ordinator.
Dr Channon's job will be to guide a national approach to controlling Australia's 24 million feral pig population, estimated to be costing the agricultural sector about $14.5 million annually.
A high priority will be to reduce the risk feral pigs pose to the spread of diseases including African swine fever if it emerged in Australia.
Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said feral pigs were a major pest to Australia's $60 billion agriculture industry and caused serious damage to the natural environment.
A roundtable meeting in Canberra in late March 2020 would bring together industry, governments, researchers and other stakeholders to deliver a national approach to feral pig management.
If African swine fever entered Australia, it could severely damage our pig meat and associated industries and devastating consequences for the pork industry
"Feral pigs can spread disease and are a huge issue for farmers, with significant time and money invested to control them," he said.
"African swine fever has been confirmed in Indonesia and was found right on our doorstep in Timor-Leste in September.
"If it entered Australia, it could severely damage our pig meat and associated industries and have devastating consequences for the pork industry.
In November the government committed $1.4m to fund Australian Pork Limited to support a co-ordinator to tackle the feral pig menace.
We're very pleased with the progress on this front, having lobbied for some time about the potential dangers feral pigs pose
APL chief executive officer, Margot Andrae, said the pork industry saw feral pigs as an acute disease risk to Australia's livestock industries which could not be underestimated.
"We're very pleased with the progress on this front, having lobbied for some time about the potential dangers feral pigs pose to our domestic pig herd, let alone the wider agriculture industry," she said.
African swine fever was still spreading around the world, was recently confirmed in Greece, and was very close to Australia in nearby Asian countries.
Dr Channon's role would coordinate reliable methods and work collaboratively with landholders, and state and territory authorities to manage feral pig numbers.
"All jurisdictions involved now need to come together and quickly start planning a proper offensive and a long term strategic approach," Ms Andrae said.
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture! Click here to sign up to receive our daily Farmonline.
The story Feral pig boss appointed to co-ordinate national cull first appeared on Farm Online.