African Swine Fever response a biosecurity shield

21 July 2021
  • $66.6 million package protected Australia against African swine fever (ASF).
  • Strengthened border control measures and increased targeted operations to detect non-compliance.
  • 2021-22 Budget provides measures to reduce the risk of ASF and the burden of established feral animals which can spread exotic diseases.

The Australian Government’s $66.6 million ASF response package has strengthened Australia’s biosecurity measures and ensured our system remains a world-class defence.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the 2019 package put more biosecurity officers and detector dogs on the ground and enhanced measures in the battle to keep ASF out of Australia.

“ASF would have a significant impact on pig health and production, as well as wider economic impact through  loss of access to overseas markets for our pork products if it were to reach our shores,” Minister Littleproud said.

“With its rapid spread through Asia, and new variants being discovered, the disease is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people globally who rely on the pork industry.

“That is why in December 2019 the Australian Government announced its ASF response package to address the risk to Australia caused by the global spread of the disease.

“Since then, we have successfully strengthened Australia’s border control measures and increased targeted operations to detect non-compliance.”

“We have also raised awareness of our biosecurity requirements to those travelling or mailing goods to Australia and reinforced our national preparedness.

“Our $400 million investment in biosecurity in the 2021-22 Budget continues our commitment to help protect Australia from the ongoing and evolving threat of ASF and other significant threats.

“Feral pigs are a major environmental and agricultural pest and would be an impediment to eradication of ASF if it were to arrive in Australia – as a result, the Australian Government is supporting a range of feral pig control measures,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Appointment of a national feral pig management coordinator and development of a National Feral Pig Action Plan is facilitating nationally coordinated management and control of feral pigs.

“In a recent thermal assisted aerial control trial, thermal cameras detected 99 per cent of the 126 feral pigs killed, compared to 1 per cent that were visible to the human eye.

“Through the Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program, we delivered more than $2.6 million to eight eligible drought-affected Local Government Areas in Queensland and New South Wales for on-ground management of feral pigs, amongst other priority pest animals and weeds.

“Building on this work, our commitments in the 2021-22 Budget will continue our efforts to reduce the economic and environmental burden of established feral animals and weeds.

“We remain committed to keeping ASF out of Australia and protecting local pork industries and international exports, while supporting land managers to better manage the impacts of feral pigs.”

For further information on our efforts to keep ASF out of Australia, visit agriculture.gov.au/pests-diseases-weeds/animal/asf and on the National Feral Pig Action plan, visit feralpigs.com.au 

Fast Facts

  • The ASF response package successfully enhanced biosecurity – highlights include:
    • strengthened biosecurity requirements for imported products, including as the global distribution of ASF has changed
    • increased border activities and passenger interventions, including targeted campaigns, 6 new detector dogs and 2 new 3D x-ray machines at international mail centres – since 2019, 43 tonnes of pork were intercepted on air travellers
    • implemented stronger penalties for non-compliance, including increased penalties for infringements and 28 civil and criminal offences, and expanded visa cancelation powers on biosecurity grounds – 14 visas cancelled to date
    • testing pork products seized at the border – ASF virus fragments detected in 24% of samples (collected over Christmas 2020 and early 2021); and purchased at retail stores – all samples tested negative
    • improved national preparedness through simulation exercises and appointment of 2 liaison officers to improve on-farm biosecurity practices
    • worked with near neighbours and trading partners, including providing technical advice and support to Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea and negotiating pre-emptive zoning arrangements with Singapore to maintain trade in pork in the event of an outbreak of ASF in Australia.