NZ Pork Industry appalled at MAF’s actions
New Zealand Pork Industry Board appalled at MAF’s actions putting New Zealand’s pig health status at risk
MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAF) has just issued, for public consultation, draft Import Heath Standards (IHSs) developed for pig meat and pig meat products in respect of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus. These draft standards propose to relax current controls on pig meat and knowingly permit the importation and release of risk material into the New Zealand market, in the form of ready-to-cook high value cuts of pork meat from countries where PRRS is endemic.
New Zealand Pork Industry Board Chairman Chris Trengrove says the Board is appalled. “Maintaining the health status is critical to the New Zealand pig industry. Once health status is lost it is very difficult to regain. PRRS is a deadly disease described as the number one enemy of the pig industry world wide. It has spread around the world over the last twenty years. Australia and New Zealand are notable and almost unique exceptions, due to the operation of our border control measures. Research shows that fresh meat containing the PRRS virus fed to pigs can infect pigs.”
Chris Trengrove points out that under WTO rules, New Zealand is entitled to take measures to protect its animal health status. “It just does not make sense that MAF would even consider such a relaxation. It means they will be relying on complex post border controls which will be a headache for MAF to attempt to ensure education and compliance. And we know from bitter experience that MAF’s resources for policing are minimal. We can only believe it is trade motivated – the EU, US and Canada are all significant exporters to New Zealand and all have PRRS. Both the Minister and MAF have said as much. But trade should not affect the MAF process which should be science based. And anyway with controls currently in place pork imports account for over 40% of New Zealand’s pork consumption so it can’t even be argued that these controls are a barrier to trade.”
“The Pork Industry Board is very disappointed with the whole process. MAF is currently facing a Court of Appeal challenge from the Beekeepers in regard to knowingly allowing the importation of an unwanted organism. The outcome of this case will determine whether MAF’s actions are even legally justifiable. MAF had given an assurance to all stakeholders that the draft import health standards would not be released until this action was decided, yet they have pushed on regardless.”