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Green MP Ridicules Release of Pig Welfare Code

by 5m Editor
10 November 2009, at 10:54am

NEW ZEALAND - The "oldest trick in the book" is being pulled out of the bag for the release of the pig welfare code, set to go out for public consultation shortly before the holiday period.

Green Party MP Sue Kedgely said the timing of the code's release was "ridiculous" because people will be on holiday and too busy to make submissions.

"It is the oldest trick in the book and it is unacceptable," Ms Kedgely said.

Nzherald.co.nz reports that the code has attracted controversy after wide-spread media coverage of pigs being kept in cramped stalls inside large sheds.

Back in July, Agriculture Minister David Carter asked The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to make the review a priority.

NAWAC chairman Dr John Hellstrom said the timing is not ideal but it is likely the consultation period will be pushed out until the end of February.

He said the committee always planned to review the code and had brought the process forward by a year.

But Ms Kedgely said the review was expected to have been completed by the end of this year.

"The Minister promised us it would be completed by the end of this year, it was absolutely urgent for them and to then say nothing is going to be done until before Christmas, the Minister cannot let this happen," she said.

Ms Kedgely said it is "absolutely disgraceful" given the level of public interest after animal rights groups filmed inside factory pig farms around the country.

Mr Hellstrom agreed that there was a lot of public interest. He said the committee is working at releasing the code before Christmas because the alternative was to lose six weeks to the holiday period.

He said the submissions will be collated and analysed by MAF before going to the minister. Mr Hellstrom said and the new code will likely be in place around the middle of the year.

He said there have been teleconferences and at least four meetings with the industry to work out the wording of the code since June.

Mr Hellstrom said pig farmers had already begun phasing out dry sow stalls because they have anticipated changes to the code.

Pictures of crowded pig stalls, injured animals and in one case a dead animal have been screened by TVNZ and TV3.

Save Animals From Exploitation supplied the pictures to the media. The group's spokesman Hans Kriek said the timing of the code shows that NAWAC is "absolutely incompetent" because according to the 2004 code, the review was meant to have been completed in 2009.

"It's typical of NAWAC to be dragging its feet," Mr Kriek said.

He said members of the public will write submissions, despite the timing.

Mr Kriek said he does not anticipate any major changes to the code but it will likely phase out the use of sow crates by 2012, rather than 2015.

"This is not a solution for the pigs," Mr Kriek said.

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister David Carter said the minister was happy with the time it had taken the committee to work on the code and the timing of the public consultation.