Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Pig welfare code would push prices up more than 18%

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New Zealand consumers will pay significantly more for locally-produced pork if proposed changes to the industry’s code of welfare go ahead. 

A financial impact report reveals the proposed reforms will hit not only on pig farmers but also consumers. 

The independent report, commissioned by the Government, shows consumers would need to pay at least 18.8% more for their NZ born and raised pork to cover pig farmers’ costs under the proposed changes.

Australasian consultancy group Sapere analysed the financial impacts of the proposed code on the pork industry and consumers.

It warns competition from offshore pork would make it difficult to sustain such a price increase as imports would undercut NZ prices, reducing sales of NZ raised and farmed pork. 

It also suggests pig farmers would struggle to obtain or pay back loans needed to re-build their farms under the code.

The industry says the draft code goes well beyond the welfare requirements in other countries where NZ imports pork.

It includes changes to the minimum space allowance required for grower pigs, a ban or significant limitation on the traditional use of farrowing systems, an effective ban on mating stalls and sets a minimum weaning age of 28 days for piglets.

Based on modelling of a 350-sow farm, Sapere concluded that a pig farm would need to save existing cash earnings for 19 years to cover the investment required to meet the proposed changes.

NZ Pork chief executive Brent Kleiss says the report paints a damning picture of the impact of the Government’s proposed reforms.

“The report is clear and unequivocal,” he says.

“It says it would be nigh-on impossible for farmers to pay back what they would have to borrow to implement the proposed code changes and leave consumers no choice but to buy imported pork produced under practices that are already illegal in NZ.

“To leave this 350-sow farm with the same expected earnings as today, prices paid to the farmer for their pork would have to rise now by 18.8% and be maintained at that level in real terms for the next 20 years. 

“The NZ pork sector has been clear from the outset that we welcome and encourage change where there are proven and well-researched positive animal welfare outcomes for all pigs, however this report represents another nail in the coffin.

“If the Government proceeds with these changes, it needs to be prepared to accept it will destroy a local industry, and in the same breath, leave New Zealanders reliant on even greater volumes of imported pork.”

Read the full report here.

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