The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has responded to Jane Smith's statement that the importation of sheep semen into New Zealand is a "biosecurity bullet".

Smith, a high-profile North Otago sheep and beef farmer spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay on Tuesday, saying she had a "heightened sense of concern," about the risks of pelleted sheep semen imports.

"The pelleted form ... is an outdated ... primitive and unprofessional way of sheep semen being processed," she said.

Smith revealed she had been in "a number of discussions," with MPI, but was concerned with the Ministry's risk analysis process.


"Any biosecurity concerns picked up would happen at the end point, which hasn't exactly worked very well for M. bovis.

"Isn't it easier to cut something off before it happens rather than later down the track?"

Listen to The Country's interview with Jane Smith below:

MPI contacted The Country in response to the interview, saying that it takes biosecurity extremely seriously.

The statement said the Ministry appreciated Smith's "strong desire" to protect New Zealand from unwanted animal diseases.

"Animal health experts including Dr Chris Rodwell, Director of Animal Health and Welfare from MPI have spoken with Jane and reiterated that strict requirements are in place to minimise any risk," said MPI.

These requirements included, "stringent rules for the exporting countries' approved semen collection centres and individual semen donors, along with strict requirements for processing the pellets. In addition, a vet needs to certify that all requirements have been met."

MPI said pellet form semen had been imported and used in New Zealand for decades and a 2013 risk assessment found the risk was appropriately managed.

However, as an extra precaution, MPI said it was instigating additional inspections of consignments to ensure that certification, documentation and packaging meet the Import Health Standard.