Imagine if this type of behaviour spread to NZ farm exports.
South Canterbury pig producers Andrew and Julie Kerr have started an online and wider petition to stop the introduction of fresh pork into New Zealand, which they fear could carry the devastating porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRS)which is highly infectious.
It is generally accepted in the pig industry that this is the one virus, the equivalent of human Aids, that no one wants in New Zealand.
It is characterised by reproductive failure in sows and respiratory distress in piglets and fattening pigs, and combined with rapid spread, can cause significant reproductive and economic losses.
The Kerrs genuinely care about pig health and animal welfare in general and do not want their pigs to suffer from this virus.
They say considering the biosecurity incursions New Zealand already has, such as Psa and varroa, why would the Government bring the risk to the country’s small pig producing industry.
They have appealed to the Minister of Primary Industries David Carter for help.
He told them he was confident the new import health standards would effectively manage the biosecurity risk posed by pork imported from countries where PRS was present.
Andrew and Julie farm beef and pigs on 184ha near Albury.
Their home — Karina Downs — a dryland property, supports 260 sows and winters 400 cattle.
The bulls are sold on contract to Peter Walsh and Associates (livestock agent), and they send away approximately 350 weaner pigs to a grower in Oamaru every three weeks.
All their sows’ details are recorded and replacement breeding stock and semen are bought in from PIC, a pig improvement company.
It’s a tightly run business and maintaining the High Health Status of the pig herd is taken seriously.
All pig-related vehicle traffic in and out of the property takes place in a buffer zone well away from the pigs.
The veterinarian who attends the Kerrs pigs has to have appropriate down-time between visiting their pig farm and any other piggery to avoid potential spread of disease.
The Kerrs enjoy the lifestyle and challenges of both livestock operations.
New Zealand and Australia are the only countries in the world which do not have PRRS.
New Zealand imports around 700 to 800 tonnes of frozen pork a week to make up the difference between domestic product and demand.
The proposed new import standards advocated by the MPI are to comply with international trade agreements, the Kerrs said.
New Zealand Food Technology Volume 47, number 5, June 2012, highlights “NZ Pork Industry’s battle with flying pigs”.
Allowed in, fresh pork would be restricted to cuts weighing no more than 3kg and with the lymph nodes removed.
Andrew believes the virus’ arrival here is as easy as a consumer feeding offcuts of some infected pork to one of their backyard pigs or the blood or fluid from pork a chef is cutting, mixing with the food which goes into the restaurant’s pig scrap bin.
The Kerrs claim the full-on effect of the PRRS arriving in New Zealand is not fully appreciated.
PRRS in New Zealand would not only reduce pig numbers, it would have a flow-on effect to companies which grow grains for pig food — meaning fewer pigs, less food required.
If New Zealand’s pig numbers declined, more pork would have to be imported from pigs reared and pork processed in a manner New Zealanders know nothing about.
New Zealand Pork Industry Board has challenged MPI’s proposal through the court and at the moment the proposal is on hold because of a legal technicality.
To do nothing is not an option for the Kerrs.
They will present their petition to Mr Carter and hope common sense prevails.
To view the petition visit www.gopetition.com/petitions/keep -nz-clean-green-fight-against-red uced-import-bio.html
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