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NZ Pig Farmers Protest Against MAF Changes

07 September 2011

NEW ZEALAND - Pig farmers from around the North Island of New Zealand gathered outside Parliament with MPs today to protest proposals to lower imported pork standards that will expose New Zealand to a "devastating disease" that will "wipe out the pork industry."

According to 3News, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) wants to alter import standards so fresh pork can be imported into New Zealand without undergoing a treatment that removes porcine reproductive and respirator syndrome (PRRS).

Labour’s agriculture spokesperson Damien O’Connor, ACT parliamentary leader John Boscawen and Green MP Sue Kedgley attended the protest to show their support for the pig farmers.

Pig Farmers say if the standards are implemented by MAF, the disease would "run rampant across New Zealand" and the pork industry would collapse.

Napier pig farmer Ian Walker says the disease "will go from one end of the country to the other" if the standards are changed.

"We’ve been lobbying the Government for some time now to try and have some common sense applied to this. The current protocols are working and the disease hasn’t entered New Zealand so we want to maintain that.

"We are hoping that common sense will prevail. This disease will just wipe out our industry and there will be no recovery from it," Mr Walker said.

"We’ve had some of the world experts working with us on this and they are all saying the same thing. It’s just a no brainer – we need to keep it out."

Taranaki Pork Producers chairman and pig farmer Ted Gane says MAF are changing the standards because of trade pressure from other countries.

"We believe it’s got to do with the idea of purest free trade... but usually you don’t go this extent and put your other industries at risk.

"MAF seem to have done some maths and I don’t know where they went to school but they are saying one chance in 1227 years.

"We’ve got pig experts at Massey University…and they are saying within three years this disease will be rampant throughout the country. MAF seem to be doing there own figures and are telling us to go away.

"I’m trying to save our livelihoods," Mr Gane said.

"If it gets into the New Zealand pig industry, there will not be a New Zealand pig industry," Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker says the additional changes will add pressure to farmers who are already adapting to new pig welfare laws.

"What the Government’s saying to the rest of the world is that they can bring their PRRS infected, hormone injected, stall-raised, subsidised product and dump it on our shores but if we produce it the same way, we will be prosecuted for it."

Green MP Sue Kedgley said the move by MAF is "lunacy".

"It is madness. Why would we lower our biosecurity standards to risk a disease which would devastate our pork industry?

"Experts are saying that within three to five years, it could be established here in New Zealand," Ms Kedgley said.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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