NEW ZEALAND: Independent Panel tells MAF to start again on pork
Posted: April 29th, 2010 - 5:45pm
Source: New Zealand Pork
An independent expert panel has given twenty-nine recommendations for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to correct deficiencies in both the process and conclusions drawn during its development of provisional import health standards for pig meat and pig meat products from EU, Canada, USA, and Sonora State of Mexico.
“This is vindication for the pork industry” says Sam McIvor CEO of New Zealand Pork. “We have been continually raising our concerns around exotic disease risks with MAF over a four year process and have had to spend over $600,000 of pig farmers’ hard earned money to get to this point”
The panel’s report raises serious concerns about; process, transparency, methodology, definitions, evidence, consistency, treatment of uncertainty, and use of independent experts by MAF. "The panel members appointed by MAF were all highly respected internationally in their fields, but carefully selected for their independence” says McIvor. “The contents in the report leaves the reader in no doubt that MAF has considerable work to do before it will be in a position to release revised import health standards and in fact one of the recommendations is that MAF needs to start again by revising its import risk assessment.” “From a pork industry perspective we just want the right answer. Our farmers have been through one exotic disease outbreak and they certainly don’t deserve to have another one”. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is the main concern. “It’s the world’s
No1 pig disease and its effects are devastating to pigs and equally devastating to the staff who have to care for sick and dying pigs. Critics have said that the pork industry has been focused on stopping pork imports as some sort of trade protection. The panel’s report shows that criticism is way off the mark and that we have raised legitimate issues and acted with integrity throughout this four year long process”, says McIvor.
The report also notes that MAF needs to improve its working relationship with industry. “This is something we’ve been striving for right through this process”, says McIvor. “We’re hopeful that this report provides a clear foundation and direction on how this could be done”. MAF has invited key stakeholders to meet on Friday for an update. “We’re looking forward to discussing how we can work together to see these 29 recommendations implemented.”