Local pig farmers are concerned that the Ministry for Primary Industries' decision to allow uncooked pork to be imported from countries where the pig disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present will lead to an outbreak of the disease that can be lethal to the pigs.
Last Wednesday these concerns saw New Zealand Pork appeal a decision by the High Court to allow the importation of raw pork from countries affected by PRRS. The result of this decision is expected in February.
Jeff Cooley, of NZ Purebred Pig Genetics in Midhirst, says that the import of uncooked pork from these countries "must be stopped, or our pig industry will be ruined".
Jeff says that those making the decisions are "not looking at it as a disease thing, but as a money making thing" and that if the decision goes ahead, then pig farmers will suffer greatly on top of already hard times.
He says that he feels that the pig industry is already "getting hit by regional councils" saying that "neighbours smell with their eyes not their noses", elaborating that his perception is that when people see a pig farm nearby they assume it will smell and complain accordingly, putting pressure on the farmers.
Another problem pig farmers face, says Jeff, is that pig schedule prices have been down, with little increase, while the price of barley is high, making it an expensive industry.
Saying that over 25 per cent of pig farmers in New Zealand have quit the business, Jeff believes that there is a risk of a "global shortage of pig meat from next year" due to the national herds in Canada and the United States having dropped dramatically.
Jeff wants New Zealand to ban the import of uncooked pork from affected countries as he believes the risk is too high that some of that uncooked meat will end up in backyard piggeries and potentially being fed to pigs.
"What if I wanted to bring in some minced up beef from somewhere like the UK?" he asks, "a country where they have had foot and mouth disease, what would happen then?"
Jeff would like to see more support for pig farmers, saying "Federated Farmers, Fonterra, the meat and wool people, none of them have really supported us and we need to stand up for the industry".