NZPork is urging the government to take urgent action to ensure imported pork meets the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand-born and -raised pork.
The plea comes following a decision by Parliament’s Primary Production select committee not to ask Parliament to investigate ways to address the inequalities facing local producers of pork.
The committee had considered a petition signed by almost 3500 New Zealanders calling for the same animal welfare standards to be applied to imported pork as those for NZ-raised pork.
About 60% of pork consumed in NZ is imported, with most of it produced in countries using practices that are illegal in this country.
However, in its final report on the petition started by NZPork policy adviser Frances Clement, the select committee has opted not to pursue the request.
NZPork chief executive Brent Kleiss said it is a disappointing decision.
“The unfairness of the regulations on New Zealand’s pig farmers clearly resonated with thousands of New Zealanders who supported the petition.
“Our animal welfare and environmental standards are more stringent than most countries supplying pork into New Zealand. What we are asking for is a level playing field for New Zealand pig farmers who must compete with cheaper imported pork produced to lesser standards.”
Kleiss said they understand the complexity of the situation and trade obligations but domestically produced pork is currently being placed in a less favourable position than imports.
“We urge policy-makers and Parliament to work with us to come up with a constructive solution that is consistent with our trading position.”
NZPork has consistently supported farmers to implement welfare standards reflecting current science and international good practice, Kleiss said.
Over the years code of welfare updates have required change and investment by local pig farmers.
“Currently, pork and cured pork for retail sale must be labelled with the country or countries where the animal was raised.
“However, because the regulations allow a whole list of possible countries to be referred to on one product, particularly for cured products such as ham and bacon, it is not at all clear whether the pork is New Zealand raised or imported.”
Welfare standards for pork production in NZ are among the most rigorous of any country. For example, gestation stalls are banned in NZ. However, most of the countries exporting pork to NZ allow sows to be contained in gestation stalls for the first four weeks of their pregnancy. In the United States, this is allowed for a sow’s entire pregnancy.
Piglets are not castrated in NZ but are routinely castrated in Europe, the US and Canada. Spain, Poland and the US do not require pain relief to be used during this procedure.