The High Court issued its decision last week, in favour of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Import Health Standard (IHS), which would allow imports of pig meat and by-products from countries with PRRS. The IHS would make it possible for US exporters to ship consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork weighing less than three kilograms.
However, the NPPC warned that the country’s pork industry was likely to appeal the decision before the deadline on 1 June 2012. “Because of this uncertainty, US exporters have been advised to delay any exports of the new category of eligible product until the results of any appeal process are concluded,” the Council said.
The MPI also welcomed the High Court’s decision, saying it recognised the ministry’s role as an independent and objective regulator. “The Court’s decision reconfirms MPI as the statutory body responsible for making such determinations and endorses the process we followed to reach that decision,” said MPI director general Wayne McNee.
“Different stakeholders will have different views on what constitutes effective risk management. MPI’s role is to take the science and stakeholder views into account, and make decisions. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our decisions all the time.”
Industry association New Zealand Pork wanted MPI to vote down the new IHS and start again with a wholly new risk assessment and further consultation, but the High Court pointed out that this approach could create “a permanent loop of argument over science from which there is no escape”.
McNee added: “MPI’s primary concern when developing import health standards is ensuring that the risk of diseases – such as PRRS – establishing in New Zealand is effectively managed. Clearly MPI, NZPork and all pig farmers share that objective, given the impact the disease would have if it arrived in New Zealand. While the new import health standards are less restrictive than previous standards, they are much more restrictive than the standards in place prior to 2001. Pre-2001, raw pork was imported with no restrictions for over 10 years, and no outbreaks of PRRS occurred.”