Work is set to begin on a $3-million biosecurity project to protect 700 abattoir jobs and safeguard the future of the South Australian pig industry.
The project, supported by the Pork SA Pig Industry Fund, the SA government's Regional Growth Fund and Seven Point Pork's Port Wakefield and Big River Pork's Murray Bridge abattoirs, will result in truck wash and decontamination facilities installed at both locations.
The biosecurity upgrades will ensure plans endorsed by the Australian government's Animal Health Committee to prevent disease spread are implemented.
This includes ensuring abattoirs are not a central source of infection, with truck biosecurity being a key part of emergency animal disease risk.
PIRSA chief veterinary officer Mary Carr said whole of supply chain biosecurity was required to minimise the risk of disease spread and assure the safe movements of pigs to allow business continuity in the event of an African swine fever outbreak.
"With ASF on our doorstep and with the experience of supply chain disruption during COVID-19, the elevated awareness of the importance of biosecurity places us in a unique position to move beyond awareness and into behaviour change," she said.
"Improving truck biosecurity at SA's two major pig export abattoirs provides benefits to all industry participants."
Pig transport trucks have been identified overseas as a major factor contributing to the spread of ASF.
A review of truck biosecurity at South Australian pig abattoirs by SA pig veterinarian Barry Lloyd in 2018 showed existing facilities did not meet best practice.
The new facilities will provide livestock crate and under-truck carriage washing capability, barriers between bays to prevent cross-contamination, disinfection capability, drainage systems that prevent recontamination of trucks, CCTV for auditing compliance and waste management that isolates contamination and meets Environment Protection Authority requirements.
New, best practice amenities for drivers are part of the overall biosecurity upgrade.
Pork SA chair Andrew Johnson said transformational change was needed to address the biosecurity and business risk posed by ASF.
"Supporting this project consolidates biosecurity enhancements on-farm and processors will be in a position to assist in driving change within the industry by setting a standard," he said.
"The co-investment from industry, particularly the major abattoirs, reflects the importance of this issue and the industry's strong commitment to biosecurity."
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