1 Jul 2014

Consumers urged to look for Blue Tick

2:09 pm on 1 July 2014

Anyone alarmed by images of grotesque conditions on a Canterbury pig farm should buy pork which features the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA) to Animals tick, the organisation says.

Footage secretly filmed by animal rights group Farmwatch aired at the weekend and showed pigs on the farm being swarmed over by rats, pigs covered in faeces and dead pigs among the living.

SPCA chief executive Ric Odom said he expected some consumers would be concerned about the quality of pork coming from New Zealand pig farms as a result of the footage.

Twenty-five pig farms were part of the Blue Tick programme, which was about ethical farming, and Mr Odom said the Blue Tick set the bar higher than the government standards when it came to animal welfare.

"We have our own standards based on what we believe is good practice when it comes to farming animals, and particularly looking after the welfare of animals, and that's what we base our audits on. So in most cases you'll find that its a higher standard than the codes of animal welfare."

The SPCA, like the Green Party, supported the idea of an independent Commissioner for Animal Welfare being established in New Zealand, Mr Odom said.

SAFE says MPI not up to the job

Animal rights organisation SAFE, has launched a blistering attack on the Ministry for Primary Industries.

SAFE's campaign director Mandy Carter said if the ministry was monitoring the pig farm properly in the first place, animal activists wouldn't have to.

"We first took footage to MPI in 2013, and at the time MPI said they agreed it was below standard and then a few weeks later they said the farmer had cleaned up his act, and all was OK, and they committed to ongoing monitoring of the farm."

"So that's when the activists went back, actually a year later, and found it was actually even worse than before," she said.

She said they have no faith in MPI's system.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is refusing to release its latest inspection report on the Canterbury pig farm and Ms Carter said MPI "clearly has got things to hide".

In a statement, the Ministry for Primary Industries told Radio New Zealand it inspected the farm again last week after being informed of the new footage and again found it to be in poor condition.

However, it said despite the farm being in an unsatisfactory state the pigs were generally in good health and that the farmer had undertaken vermin control work.