A NATIONAL feral pig coordinator has been appointed in a bid to deal with the destructive pest and protect Australia from a potential African Swine Fever outbreak.
Dr Heather Channon, who has worked for Australian Pork Limited since 2005, will oversee measures to tackle the feral pig population and reduce the risk pigs pose to the spread of disease.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said feral pigs were a major pest and posed a threat to Australia's $60 billion agriculture industry.
They also cause serious damage to the natural environment.
"There is an estimated 24 million feral pigs in Australia, costing the national agricultural sector about $14.5 million a year." Mr Littleproud said.
"Feral pigs can spread disease and are a huge issue for farmers, with significant time and money invested to control them.
"The $1.4 million was announced in November last year to fund Australian Pork Limited (APL) to support a coordinator to tackle the feral pig problem.
"This role will coordinate reliable methods and work collaboratively on the ground with landholders, the states and territories to manage feral pig numbers."
Mr Littleproud said a roundtable would be held in Canberra in late March 2020 to bring together industry, governments, researchers and other stakeholder to deliver a national approach to feral pig management.
He said African Swine Fever was a major concern for the Australian pork industry.
"ASF has been confirmed in Indonesia and was found right on our doorstep in Timor-Leste in September 2019," Mr Littleproud said.
"If ASF was to enter Australia, it could severely damage our pig meat and associated industries and have devastating consequences for the pork industry.
"I commend industry for their efforts in advocating for a nationally coordinated approach to feral pig management."