26 Aug 2013

South Auckland singled out as pig trouble spot

1:13 pm on 26 August 2013

With the Supreme Court's decision on whether uncooked pork meat from countries with a devastating pig disease can come into the country still pending, biosecurity is top of mind for the industry.

Farmers fear someone will feed the imported uncooked pork to pigs in New Zealand, causing an outbreak of the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).

South Aucklanders keeping a pig or two in the backyard are being repeatedly singled out as causing concern.

At a recent biosecurity conference in Auckland, NZ Pork chief executive Owen Symmans said there was a thriving black market nearby.

"There's a number of places around here that are, shall we say, supplying the underground market," he said.

"One of the people I know well in the industry used to operate a piggery operation in South Auckland and he said that every time the refuse charges went up at the dumps, there would be an increase in the number of calls he had wanting to see if he'd be prepared to take food waste to feed his pigs."

At the pork industry conference in July, Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general of compliance Andrew Coleman repeatedly cited South Aucklanders keeping pigs in their garages when he talked about the ministry's challenges in tracing pigs kept by hobbyists.

However, the Ministry for Primary Industries told Radio New Zealand there is no evidence to suggest a pattern of non-compliance in South Auckland.

It says while it has prosecuted people in the past for breaking the waste food regulations when it comes to pigs, none of them have been from South Auckland.