Num­bers stacked in pork im­port row

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Pro­pos­als by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­tural and Fish­eries to re­lax im­port health stan­dards for raw pork from the United States, Canada, Mex­ico and the Euro­pean Union, is like play­ing Rus­sian roulette with the en­tire agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

‘‘Al­though MAF has stated that there is only a 1 in 1227 year risk of an out­break of the porcine re­pro­duc­tive and re­s­pi­ra­tory syn­drome from im­ported raw pork, this doesn’t ac­count for other se­ri­ous an­i­mal dis­eases car­ried in raw meat,’’ said John Hart­nell, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers biose­cu­rity spokesper­son.

‘‘Take Bul­garia, which is a mem­ber of the EU. Bul­garia has been strug­gling to put down an out­break of foot and mouth disease, which has in­fected pigs and other live­stock and fresh out­breaks were con­firmed only last week.

‘‘The po­ten­tial for not just PRRS but other dis­eases to be car­ried in raw pork is real. Pigs are one of the great­est risk vec­tors for ru­mi­nant dis­eases and we don’t want to im­port one disease and get a sec­ond one for free.

‘‘I’m sure MAF be­lieves its cal­cu­la­tions but a disease doesn’t stop to check the calendar to see what year it is. One in a 1227 years could well be next year?

‘‘Af­ter all, the odds of a stan­dard ticket win­ning last week­end’s $34 mil­lion Power­ball were 1 in 3.8 mil­lion but that didn’t stop two peo­ple from do­ing just that. MAF’s odds seem more nu­merol­ogy than science – a be­lief in the num­bers and not what a trend maybe telling us.

‘‘This is not a case of pro­tec­tion­ism. We live for free trade but that does not mean un­ques­tion­ing trade.

‘‘What we’re talk­ing about is re­tail ready raw pork that can be de­liv­ered from the ex­port car­ton straight to a su­per­mar­ket’s shelf or to any food ser­vice out­let in the coun­try. There is po­ten­tial for raw meat to host ex­otic dis­eases.

‘‘ The move to re­lax im­port health stan­dards for raw pork is the thin edge of the biose­cu­rity wedge. Es­pe­cially when agree­ment has just been fi­nalised, which will see New Zealand pork pro­duc­ers adopt world-lead­ing an­i­mal wel­fare stan­dards.

‘‘This con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment will now be over­shad­owed by the in­creased risk that this in­dus­try now faces.

‘‘As an is­land, we’re still thank­fully free of most ex­otic pests and dis­eases due to sound biose­cu­rity. It’s time to put aside the cal­cu­la­tor, open up our eyes and start match­ing ac­tiv­ity with old fash­ioned com­mon sense,’’ Mr Hart­nell con­cluded.

Rus­sian roulette: The move to re­lax im­port health stan­dards for raw pork is the thin edge of the biose­cu­rity wedge ac­cord­ing to Fed­er­ated Farm­ers biose­cu­rity spokesman John Hart­nell.

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