Views needed on swine fever insurance over fears of 'little uptake'

African swine fever continues to spread globally and remains a threat to the UK pig industry
African swine fever continues to spread globally and remains a threat to the UK pig industry

Pig producers' views are needed on NFU Mutual's African swine fever (ASF) insurance over fears that not enough farmers are being covered.

The National Pig Association (NPA) is seeking views on the product as swine fever continues to present a 'very real threat' to the UK pig industry.

NFU Mutual launched the insurance for pig producers whose premises are directly affected by an outbreak.

The rural insurer revised the product recently, including significantly reducing the premium.



The NPA said that although there had been some interest in the insurance, NFU Mutual has so far had 'little uptake' from pig producers.

NFU Mutual staff working on the insurance said there does not appear to be any issues with the product itself, which feedback suggests is ‘fit for purpose’.



But many producers may not feel the threat to their businesses is currently high enough to warrant taking out the insurance, the NPA explained.

The group warned, however, that NFU Mutual could close the scheme if the UK pig industry does not utilise it.

In this case, it would not be re-opened, even if the ASF risk significantly increased, the rural insurer warned.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said pig producers' feedback on the product is 'urgently needed'.

“We have always believed that ASF insurance could be a very useful tool for pig businesses," she said.

"We would not like to see the scheme scrapped at this stage, which is why we are seeking a more thorough understanding of potential uptake across the industry.

“Of course, the decision at business level will be based on a number of factors, including perceived risk."



She said it is important to highlight that despite the current focus on Covid-19, ASF is continuing to spread globally and remains a threat to the UK pig sector.

Swine fever is now only 10km from the German border in Poland and cases continue to be reported in numerous European, Asian and African countries.

Elsewhere, the virus has just been reported in India for the first time.

“Once global travel returns to something like normality, the risk of further spread will be heightened again,” Ms Davies said.

Last June, ASF was found in meat seized by port authorities in Northern Ireland before entering the country, the first time the virus has been detected in the UK.

Pig producers can let their views heard by emailing NPA@NPAnet.org.uk.