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Pig farmers push to maintain pork import rules

by 5m Editor
3 August 2007, at 10:15am

NEW ZEALAND - Pig farmers say they want the Government to maintain existing border controls which keep untreated pork from many countries out of New Zealand.

PORK PROTEST: New Zealand pig farmers are warning against a possible relaxation of border controls for imports of raw pork.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry restricted the import of uncooked pigmeat in September 2001, when it constrained source countries to Canada, the US and Denmark.

These controls – calculated at the time to be likely to increase the price of imported pork by 53c/kg – were created because of concerns over porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.

But Pork Industry Board chairman Chris Trengrove has said that some countries with endemic PRRS had complained that requiring their meat to be quarantined and cooked before it is allowed into the market is "unfair trade".

MAF was been looking at relaxing regulations, and had said the risk would be minimal, he said.

Mr Trengrove said the regulations were not obviously hindering imports, and that a relaxation of the controls would be "potentially disastrous".

The virus causes outbreaks of abortion, mummified, dead or weak piglets, and respiratory disease in all ages of pigs, and is notorious for being spread through pigs consuming meat from infected pigs.

Mr Trengrove has warned that though average consumption has lifted sharply, so have imports, which raised concern over Government intentions to relax sanitary requirements for imported pigmeat.

"At the moment we do have some protection through the transitional facilities which allow at risk pork to be treated through the existing Import Health Standard, and to further relax this protection seems total madness," Mr Trengrove said today.

Mr Trengrove also alleged there were major flaws in Biosecurity New Zealand's analysis of technical data, and he warned there were important principles at stake which concerned other industries as well as the pork sector.

Source: Stuff.co.nz

5m Editor