One of the silliest statements in the story about the alleged ill treatment of pigs came from Mike King on Breakfst yesterday .
He said he didn’t think people would mind paying more for free range pork (it’s towards the end of the clip at about 5:40).
You’ve got that wrong Mike. Those who can afford to, may choose to pay more for their food, but some who can won’t and many people can’t.
Expense is no excuse for not treating animals humanely. If current practices are cruel they must be changed but no-one should fool themselves that this won’t add costs to production which will increase the price and put pork products out of the range of many budgets.
The pig farm which was filmed has been identified and will be inspected. If it complies with the law, we need to ask is the law adequate, does it need changing and should animal welfare requriements be improved?
The decision on whether changes ought to be made must be based on fact because so far we’ve had a pretty one-sided and emotional view of the issue. There is another and a Kiwiblog reader explains the difference between dry sow stalls and farrowing crates. S/he also says:
The other thing I would note is the TVNZ piece. Two points about Mike King’s “disgust”. Firstly – yes the pigs were screaming. Why? It was the middle of the night or early morning. The pigs had been left alone and were suddenly woken by human activity. What does this usually mean for them? Quite simply – feeding time. Free range pigs have EXACTLY the same reaction. If King and his companions ahd fed the pigs the screaming would have stopped. Guarantee it. Secondly – the chewing of bars and frothing of the mouth? Again, it is completely standard across all pigs. They chew things. Free range pigs it’ll be tree branches etc, for pigs in stalls or crates it’ll be bars. And yes, they froth. Christ, you should see them when they mate!
If pig farming in New Zealand breaches animal welfare standards it will have to change. But if higher – and more expensive – standards are imposed on the industry here nothing will be achieved if imported products from countries with lower, and cheaper, standards are permitted to compete with local produce.
Stopping imports or imposing higher standards on them is fraught with politics. Anything we require of imports must be based on facts or we’ll open ourselves up to charges of imposing non tariff barriers.
That won’t help the New Zealand pork industry and it will harm our efforts to free up world trade.
UPDATE: A media release from David Carter says MAF is inspecting the farm at the centre of the dispute.