The Scottish government has announced a new £438,700 national disease control project to improve biosecurity standards on pig farms.

The project will work to eradicate Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) in Scotland, and the allocated funding will provide tests to affected premises and controls to prevent spread between farms.

The funding, which will be managed by Wholesome Pigs Ltd – a not-for-profit company owned by all the commercial pig farmers in the country, will help to map where disease is detected and educate farmers on how they can improve their biosecurity.

A biosecurity app will also be used to allow farmers to get a tailored assessment of their biosecurity on farm to help them prevent disease spread between premises.

Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie said: “The impact of a disease infecting a farm can be devastating to a farmer and this project will be a real benefit to the sector which is already taking steps to deal with PRRS though vaccination.

“Improving biosecurity as a result of this project will also help prevent the introduction of other pig diseases, such as African Swine Fever (ASF), which is currently spreading across Europe.

“The costs of controlling an ASF outbreak are huge, with the knock on costs of losing export markets, so it is absolutely vital that government and farmers work together to take steps to protect Scottish agriculture businesses, improve animal health and welfare standards, reduce the reliance on veterinary medicines, and increase productivity through the introduction of practical solutions, like this project.”

Scottish pig sector

Director of Wholesome Pigs (Scotland) Ltd, Andy McGowan, said the Scottish pig sector has an “admirable track record” of collaborating to control and eliminate disease.

This teamwork, he said, has contributed to a 38% reduction in carbon emissions per kilo over the past two years.

“This substantial and very welcome investment from Scottish government into veterinary testing, data sharing and coordination systems will ensure that our sector continues to be part of the solution to providing affordable, high quality food for Scottish consumers whilst achieving the ambitious transition towards net zero,” he said.