Federated farmers, New Zealand's leading rural sector organisation, which represents farmers and rural families around the country is said to be deeply concerned about the biosecurity precedent set by the release of provisional health standards for imported pork.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is setting a disturbing precedent by lowering the bar for imported pork. It is simply unacceptable on biosecurity grounds,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.
“The unintentional risk of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS virus) entering New Zealand is too high and the Federation backs New Zealand Pork on this issue.New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries on earth free of PRRS. It's no wonder the pork industry doesn't want it here, given piglet mortality can peak at 70% during the acute phase.
“The New Zealand pig herd could become infected with PRRS if infected imported raw pork was fed to an unregistered pig. This could easily occur on a lifestyle block or in the suburbs.Supporters may argue that chilled or frozen consumer cuts of less than three kilograms are 'low risk,' but those words are vastly different from 'no risk.'
“For example, it has to be remembered the devastating bee mite, Varroa, didn't just magic here. Varroa entered New Zealand despite a long standing ban on imported honey from all but a few countries. What is now being proposed for pork represents yet another hole at the border that we'll come to regret when it's far too late,” Hartnell said.
MAF's recommendation also comes at a time when New Zealand's recent biosecurity record is far from flash. Clover root weevil, didymo, varroa, Argentine ants and Mediterranean fanworm are just some of the recent unwanted arrivals. “If it is pork today, will New Zealand be importing beef from foot and mouth infected countries next?” Hartnell asked.
“The Federation believes MAF must set import health standards, requiring imported raw meat products to come from countries that are either disease free, or share the same disease profile as New Zealand.
“The Federation will be taking this up urgently with the Minister next week,” Hartnell concluded.
• Federated Farmers