7 Jul 2012

Labour calls for reversal of pork import decision

9:35 pm on 7 July 2012

The Labour Party is calling on the Government to reverse its decision to ease restrictions on pork imports.

The Ministry for Primary Industries aims to ease import standards for fresh uncooked pig meat from countries that have the porcine disease PRRS.

New Zealand is one of the few countries still free of the virus which causes respiratory problems in pigs and kills piglets.

The High Court has recently rejected the industry's attempt to halt the new procedures. NZPork is taking its case to the Court of Appeal in November.

Labour's primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor says the Government should spare the industry the cost of further court action.

He says it would be dangerous for the ministry to adopt lower standards for the importation of pork, given deficiencies in the biosecurity system identified in an independent review on the entry of kiwifruit disease PSA.

"Clearly issues around kiwifruit have exposed the industries to massive costs and a disease that we will not be able to eradicate," he says.

The pork industry welcomes a recommendation in the PSA report that primary industries and the Government work more closely on matters of biosecurity.

NZPork chief executive Owen Symmans says however, he can't comment on the industry's appeal against the new import rules as it's an ongoing legal process.

The ministry made some changes to its new import health standards after an independent review found fault with its risk assessment. NZPork wanted the ministry to ditch the standard and start again.