26 Nov 2012

Pork industry appeals High Court ruling on imports

11:00 pm on 26 November 2012

The pork industry organisation heads to the Court of Appeal this week in the latest move in its legal battle to keep uncooked pork out of the country.

New Zealand Pork is appealing against a High Court ruling backing the Ministry for Primary Industries' decision to allow uncooked pork to be imported from countries where the pig disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present.

Farmers fear the uncooked pork will make its way to backyard piggeries and be fed to pigs, leading to an outbreak of the disease that is potentially lethal to the animals.

At present, pork from countries with PRRS must be cooked before entering New Zealand.

The ministry says there is very little chance of an outbreak here and points to the fact that for ten years prior to 2001, uncooked pork was imported without incident.

US lobbyists visit NZ

Meanwhile, pork industry lobbyists from the United States recently visited New Zealand and Australia calling industry concerns here unscientific and urging both countries to remove all restrictions on American pork.

The lobbyists said the importation of fresh, chilled and frozen pork has never resulted in an outbreak in a country which is PRRS-free and said pork should be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotations.

However, Massey University pig epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann says New Zealand pig farmers already compete with imported pork on a daily basis and 45% of the pork consumed is from an imported source.

"It's an industry that has been and will continue to be prepared to deal with import pressure.

"But it is one of the four of five countries in the world that don't have this disease and it seems prudent to do everything you can to make sure it doesn't come in."

Dr Neumann says people must not lose sight of what a devastating disease PRRS is to pigs.