The Chairman of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board has challenged the government to improve both border controls and down-stream biosecurity systems which he says are inadequate and pose serious threats to the New Zealand economy.
Chris Trengrove, told delegates attending the Annual Pork Industry Conference this week, that the risks associated with illegal food and animal products being imported into New Zealand, affected not just the agricultural industry but the entire New Zealand economy.
“It was therefore extremely disappointing, not only for us as an industry, but for all New Zealanders, that prosecutions did not eventuate as a result of the illegal importations of significantly large quantities of Korean pork in April this year.”
He said that whilst the focus seems to be on inbound travellers and tourists, controls should be intensified to focus on the validity of commercial imports where there is the potential for large volumes of illegal food products to slip into New Zealand undetected.
“Whilst our government proclaims this country has robust border controls, unfortunately these have proved not to be adequate, and further down the line biosecurity threats need to be monitored more closely.”
“The New Zealand pork industry shares the nervousness of the entire primary sector, that a likely lapse in biosecurity may result in a major disease incursion such as Foot and Mouth Disease, which would devastate the New Zealand economy.
“The Pork Industry Board has taken a proactive approach in developing its own set of Best Practice Guidelines for on-farm biosecurity,” Mr Trengrove said.
He stressed to farmers the importance of establishing and maintaining the most stringent standards appropriate to each farm. “This is the best protection, and in fact, unfortunately the only protection, we have at the moment,” he said.
Delegates attending the conference had a robust discussion with the Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity, Jim Anderton, outlining threats not only to the pork industry but to the national economy.
Mr Trengrove said he was pleased the industry was able to convey to the Minister, its desire to assist in the enhancement of a more robust biosecurity system, not just for the benefit of New Zealand agriculture but for the entire country.
He also told the conference that as part of a national biosecurity focus the Pork Industry Board had initiated the development of a programme for the surveillance of exotic diseases.
“We intend to be working in partnership with Biosecurity New Zealand, on surveillance and other issues which, although have particular relevance to the pork industry, would have application to other livestock diseases.
“Given the importance of this programme and the international expertise we will be working with , we will be looking for the on-going support of the Minister and Biosecurity New Zealand,” he said.