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Pork Industry welcomes Code of Welfare

Pork Industry welcomes Code of Welfare

The New Zealand Pork Industry Board has welcomed the release of the updated Animal Welfare (Pigs) Code of Welfare, released by the Minister of Agriculture today.

The Board’s Chief Executive, Angus Davidson, said that the industry was pleased on two counts – firstly that after a long wait the Code has finally been signed off by the Minister and NAWAC, and secondly, that NAWAC had accepted the scientific evidence supporting the optional use of dry sow stalls for a limited period.

“The release of the Code has been a very long time coming, so the pork industry is very pleased to finally have something concrete in place. It is more than four years since we started work on the development of a new Code of Welfare and our industry has spent an enormous amount of time and money seeking out the very best and up-to-date scientific evidence to submit to NAWAC for its consideration,” he said.

“The industry now looks forward to working within the requirements of the new Code and alongside NAWAC to undertake further research, thus ensuring the Code remains at the forefront of animal welfare legislation.”

The new Code will limit the optional use of dry sow stalls to a maximum of four weeks after mating, as from January 2015. The Board has always maintained that a strong body of evidence recognises that for some methods of production, a limited period of confinement is in the best interests of the sow.

“NAWAC had to consider all the facts and has agreed with the scientific evidence, which is in fact in keeping with international trends, for example in the European Union,” Angus Davidson said.

NAWAC originally suggested an interim step in the reduction of dry sow stalls, which would limit their use to ten weeks in five years time, however an independent economic assessment of the costs to the pork industry commissioned by MAF, suggested this would not be economically viable and would in fact put the survival of the New Zealand pork industry at risk, as has been the case in the U.K.

“The outcome of this of course would be that New Zealanders would be eating imported pork, produced in systems that do not have the type of animal welfare legislation that is being put in place here,” Angus Davidson said.

The per capita consumption of pork in New Zealand is just over 19kg per year, and about 30% of that is imported product which comes from countries which do not have animal welfare legislation regulating the use of dry sow stalls.

“We would therefore urge consumers to look for the 100% New Zealand Pork label to ensure they are purchasing a product that is produced in an environment where the animals do have the protection of this new piece of contemporary legislation, which we are proud to say is backed by strong veterinary and scientific opinion,” Angus Davidson said.

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