30 Jul 2010

Pork industry may be subject to an complaint to Ombudsman

4:24 pm on 30 July 2010

An animal welfare lobby group says it will make an formal complaint to the Ombudsman if the results of an audit of pig farms are not made public.

The Pork Industry Board began the audit earlier this year to ensure that farmers were looking after their pigs, while it waited for the outcome of a new pig welfare code.

The code is being finalised by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee before it is presented to the Minister of Agriculture in October.

A leaked email, written by the veterinarian contracted to carry out the audit, indicates that the industry is trying to prevent the details of it being made public.

The email said that since it is likely that there will be a number of farms requiring corrective actions and that those actions could cause embarrassment to the farmer and the industry if made public, some alternatives to current procedures have been put forward.

The veterinarian said it had been suggested that only the farmers and himself, hold the completed documentation, meaning it cannot be accessed by the public under the Official Information Act.

The email says the audit has been put on hold while the industry seeks legal advice.

The Save the Animals from Exploitation group says it will complain to the Ombudsman if the Pork Industry Board does not make the results of the audit public.

In April, Pork Industry Board chief executive, Sam McIvor said the industry hoped that the audits would give the public an assurance that farmers were looking after their pigs properly.

The Pork Industry Board has not returned calls from Radio New Zealand on Thursday.