New Zealand decision to open its doors to imports of fresh pork to send shockwaves through the Australian pig industry, which is afraid of AIDS-like disease threatens our doorstep.
Australia and New Zealand are among the few countries where porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is endemic in swine herds. Farmers in both countries are angry because NZ is giving in to pressure to act in North America to facilitate the bio-security standards, which currently prohibits the import of raw pork and block the danger of PRRS virus highly infectious.
PRRS does not affect humans, but it is considered the number one enemy of the pork industry worldwide because it causes severe immune suppression, similar to HIV-AIDs, and it has a rapidly changing genetic make-up.
Australian Pork Limited (APL) has warned all local livestock industries that fresh pork imports into NZ has disease status ramifications for all other animal production systems which will be at risk of exposure to other unwanted global diseases.
“This decision resonates through all of NZ agriculture and indirectly our livestock industries, too,” said APL chief executive officer, Andrew Spencer.
“It smells of political quid pro quo at the expense of the NZ pork industry for benefits to others in the trade arena – the science base seems to have been conveniently ignored.”
Local pig industry leaders believe once NZ standards are lowered, Australia will face inevitable trade pressure to follow suit, undermining our livestock industry’s much-envied clean and green trading advantage.
“While Australia as a pig producing nation rates around 30th on a global scale, we rank 18th as an exporter, primarily because retaining our clean biosecurity status allows us to punch well above our weight in the ever-growing health conscious markets of the world,” Mr Spencer said.
“That not only goes for pig meat but other agricultural products, too, especially beef.”
The pork producers claim their NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) biosecurity in power will be abandoned and the courts have taken steps to stop the changes implemented.