Wednesday, 06 April 2022 15:19

Pig farmers: Have your say on proposed biosecurity agreement

Written by  Staff Reporters
NZPork incoming chief executive Brent Kleiss. NZPork incoming chief executive Brent Kleiss.

New Zealand pig farmers are being encouraged to have their say on a proposal to sign an agreement with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help protect the sector in the event of a biosecurity incursion.

The proposed Operational Agreement establishes a process for determining decisions if New Zealand experiences an incursion of a pig-specific non-zoonotic pest or disease.

It covers how joint decision-making would occur between the sector and MPI if an exotic disease affecting the pork industry enters the country, who would provide funding and how much funding would be available to undertake the response.

NZPork is also asking pig farmers for their views on setting up a biosecurity levy as an option for paying the sector’s agreed share if an incursion response is launched. The biosecurity levy would be zero-rated ($0) until required.

“Protecting the high health status of the New Zealand pig herd and keeping it free of diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF) and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is paramount,” says NZPork incoming chief executive Brent Kleiss.

Kleiss says in 2014, pig farming gave their support to NZPork to become a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) signatory with MPI.

He says it ensured the industry would have a share in decision-making and resourcing for biosecurity readiness and response activities.

“NZPork assured farmers it would not commit additional funds over and above its business as usual investment in biosecurity without consulting further with farmers.

“The Operational Agreement we are seeking feedback from farmers on provides clarity about how NZPork will work with MPI to respond to a pig-specific non-zoonotic exotic disease incursion, what additional readiness activities will be undertaken and ensures the agreed arrangement is binding.

“It would mean NZPork has a direct involvement in readiness and response decision-making and ensures our industry expertise is used in that process. NZPork is also likely to obtain real benefits from participating in biosecurity decision-making that have not been readily available to it.”

As part of the Operational Agreement, MPI and NZPork would work together to ensure unwanted organisms are detected and diagnosed early and cost effectively.

Readiness activities, which will improve the ability to understand biosecurity risks and respond to biosecurity events, including early notification by MPI to NZPork, would also be identified and implemented.

The agreement would see MPI and NZPork collaborate to ensure biosecurity responses are successful and cost effective by agreeing whether to respond to an incursion, govern the response effectively and contribute resources and expertise to any operation.

Mr Kleiss said that feedback from discussions with farmers had indicated that the majority support the Operational Agreement in principle.

“Without an OA, NZPork would only be able to participate in readiness and response activities to the extent MPI allows.

“It would mean the critical first stages of any response would be stalled whilst agreement on the cost share and decision-making terms were negotiated. Reaching agreement now means we can move faster to limit the impacts of any incursion when it occurs.”

NZPork is contacting farmers directly and providing them with information including a voting form. All farmers are encouraged to visit the NZPork website for more information and download and complete a voting form before the consultation ends on April 26.

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