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Kiwi Border Security Worry for Pig Farmers

17 July 2013

NEW ZEALAND - Pig farmers have joined the dairy and horticulture industries in expressing concern at the Government's ability to close its borders against biosecurity incursions.

Industry body NZPork is awaiting a Supreme Court judgment on a challenge to a Primary Industries Ministry's decision to allow raw pork imports.

Stuff.co.nz reports that the industry's case is that the imports will increase the risk of a devastating disease infecting New Zealand's piggeries. It says its expert advice puts the risk as once in five years and the ministry's at once in 1227 years.

NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter, an Oamaru pig farmer, has used the industry conference in Wellington to take a dig at the ministry, saying it appears confused about how to manage the conflicting requirements of biosecurity and trade.

Primary Industries Associate Minister Jo Goodhew opened the conference saying that despite their differences, the industry and the ministry could still work together.

"There will always be debates about the best scientific evidence," she said. Biosecurity incursions happened every week and were managed "in tried and trusted ways".

Agreements with industries on how to handle incursions were being settled and NZPork would be part of that. "Please don't shut the door on talking to us."

Mr Carter lamented the state of agriculture, saying its industries had not inherited a culture of adding value.

Farmers had chosen to be driven by the low cost of production in the belief that the rest of the world's farmers should do the same. "For a significant time... our capital gain has exceeded our farming return."

Now they were trapped in a low-cost environment with debt taking 60 per cent of their earnings, incurring constant costly regulations and with little political influence.

Pork producers were among the worst off because of their solely domestic focus. Pig farmers' ability to produce meat protein was under-rated.

Many in the industry produced more protein than a 15,000-cattle operation and the largest producer exceeded 80,000 cattle.

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