OPINION: The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.
All independent butchers across the country have been classified as non-essential businesses and been forced to close as part of COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
NZ Pork chief executive David Baines says the Government’s decision to exclude independent butchers from the essential business list will cause an animal welfare crisis in the New Zealand pork sector.
It says the pork sector will end up not having a place to house up to 5,000 surplus pigs on farm every week.
“By not being able to sell fresh carcass pigs to the independent butchers and other segments, we will be faced with a significant animal welfare issue,” says Baines.
“It’s very simple. There is no capacity to hold surplus pigs on farm. Commercial farms typically supply pigs to market on a weekly basis and do not carry spare holding capacity. Overcrowding of pigs in pens would quickly constitute a significant welfare issue under the animal welfare code.
“Wholesalers do not have the capacity to process and freeze the surplus volumes. Freezing carcasses is also not a complete option to the surplus volume, due to the limited blast freezer and storage capacity.”
NZ Pork has been in talks with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) about the situation.
Baines says it has been advised that O’Connor is seriously considering the issue.
“MPI clearly understands the urgency and importance of the issue, but we need a decision from the Government now.”