Porkies on the Pork Board?

Yesterday Sue Kedgley asked Agriculture Minister David Carter some questions in Parliament about allegations that the Pork Industry Board was deliberately attempting to evade the Official Information Act with respect to information about animal welfare in piggeries.  Sue’s questions followed a leaked email from the Pork Industry Board:

It is likely there will be a number of farms requiring corrective actions and … those actions could cause embarrassment to the farmer if made public and could cause embarrassment to the industry if used by animal welfarists, [so] some alternatives to current procedures were put forward.

Here’s David Carter’s response to Sue:

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Agriculture: Is he taking any action in response to reports that the Pork Industry Board sought to avoid the public embarrassment of reporting conditions in New Zealand piggeries by deliberately evading the Official Information Act; if not, why not?

Hon DAVID CARTER (Minister of Agriculture): No, and for a very simple reason: I have no responsibility for the Pork Industry Board being compliant with the Official Information Act.

But a quick check of  section 6 of the Pork Industry Board Act shows that it provides:

(7)It is also a function of the Board to report regularly to the Minister on—
(a) the performance and present state of the New Zealand pork industry; and
(b) the Board’s achievement of its object; and
(c) the Board’s performance of its functions; and
(d) any other matters the Board thinks fit or the Minister requests. 

And under Schedule 2 of the Act, the Minister can remove a director from office for disability affecting performance of duty, bankruptcy, breach of any duty set out in Schedule 1 that applies to the director, or misconduct, proved to the Minister’s satisfaction.” 

I suspect this story has a wee way to run.

27 Comments Posted

  1. I grew up right down the street from a butcher shop. Let me tell you, Frog, those pigs going to slaughter were always screaming bloody murder. Those pigs knew what was coming. Pigs are too intelligent to be mistreated; they know they are being mistreated! They know when humans are being inhumane!

  2. “If you clean up the area of animal welfare, the studies show that abuse of people, young or old will reduce.”

    That is a very, very salient point PM Watcher.

  3. Carter’s squealing like a stuck pig on his inability to do anything (but allow bad pig farmers to get worse purely for profit). Whatever happened to people being content with a fair profit that is not multiplied at the expense of our country’s good name and our worker’s wages?

    We should also be keeping a close watch on live sheep exports starting up again as pressure is being brought to bear on him by interested parties.

    How we look after our animals tells us Kiwis that is the way we were brought up and how our children will be raised. Another little baby slaughtered – will it be a wasted death this time, too?

    Maybe we need to start moving the battleground of child abuse at the feet of Carter as well as Key and his backers. If you clean up the area of animal welfare, the studies show that abuse of people, young or old will reduce.

  4. ……..and then we have the story about the common practice of aborting calves, often over a hundred for each herd per year. New Zealand Farms are clean and green and use ethical practices….? I can see our brand falling in a downward spiral accompanied by whoop whoop noises and the “Pull Up” warning.

  5. Yes, they have completely gone rogue. I hope Sue Kedgley gives the minister another kicking about this

  6. And the Pork Board also appears to be breaking the law by conducting surveillance using tracking devices.

    Rees said the campaigners were upset but not surprised at finding the device “given the past spying we’ve had to put up with from Thompson & Clark”. They were relieved they were able to spot it so easily: “Whoever put it there was incompetent, there’s no other explanation.”

    She thought it was “very likely” Thompson & Clark was monitoring them for the Pork Industry Board.

    Save Animals From Exploitation director Hans Kriek said he was “99.9%” sure the board was the client, because Gillespie-Gray’s group had been focused on visiting their farms and filming conditions.

    Asked about the tracking, board chief executive Sam McIver said: “You need to ask Thompson & Clark”, but confirmed the board did get “generic” information from Thompson & Clark to protect its members. The board passes on information about animal rights groups to pig farmers.

    The Pork Industry Board is a statutory agency, but it appears to have gone feral. This is totally outrageous. The Police have to get a warrant to use such a device, but the Pork Industry Board seems to think it is above the law, both in this regard and in regard to the Official Information Act.

    It’s time for a Commission of Inquiry into its activities.

  7. Why on earth is a farming nation thousands of miles from anywhere importing pork? We send pork overseas, they send pork over here, wasting petrol. We are unable to enforce basic standards because countries with no animal welfare morality can undercut us. We owe $170 billion. Can’t we even provide our own meat? Madness! WTO tyranny.

  8. @bliss 1:45 PM

    I should also have mentioned that the WTO does not prevent countries from imposing country of origin labeling requirements.

    That way, those who choose to eat pork (and, phil u, do you accept it is an individual choice or do you think the sale of all meat for human consumption should be made unlawful?) will be able to know if it was farmed in New Zealand, and if not, be empowered to make a decision whether to buy it based on the animal welfare regulation of its country of origin.

    Not an ideal solution, but at least one that gives the consumer some information upon which to make a choice in the absence of animal welfare exemptions to “free” trade being adopted by the WTO.

  9. bliss…

    what apart from ‘accepted-custom’..

    ..gives you the ‘right’ to kill/eat other living/sentient/pain-feeling beings/creatures…?

    would you die without shovelling flesh/fat/blood down your gut…?

    (and yr ‘i only eat..’ snobbery/qualifications are both surreal and nauseous…


  10. Yes, bliss, the WTO is an impediment. Animal welfare has been on the WTO agenda for over 10 years, largely pushed by the EU who have relatively high animal welfare standards. However, little progress has been made, and shamefully for both the current and previous Governments, New Zealand is hindmost among the countries dragging their heels:

    New Zealand has consistently opposed attempts by countries seeking to influence animal welfare conditions in other countries with which they trade. New Zealand supports the key WTO principle that products should not be discriminated against on the basis of processing and production methods.

  11. I am appalled by the actions of the pork industry – world wide. I enjoy pork and pay over the odds to only eat pork from producers I trust.

    But as we ban sow crates and unacceptable factory farming techniques we must also ban imports of pork farmed in that fashion. I am unaware of the exact implications of this in WTO terms (I would like to know – toad?). If we ban the factory farming of pork with out taking action over imports almost all bacon for sale will be imported and there will be very few NZ pork farmers left.

    And I want to eat NZ farmed pork, thanks.


  12. @stephensmikm 8:49 AM

    The Minister can remove any director, be he or she a Ministerial appointee or one elected by the industry, for misconduct. Surely the dilberate evasion of statutory obligations under the Official Information Act, or a refusal to report to the Minister on compliance with the Official Information Act when requested, would meet the threshold of “misconduct”.

  13. @Robert
    I did read it actually while writing up the previous post – don’t agree with what he said though because of the issues surrounding that democratic element of the board ,the fact that only 1 or two directors can be ministerial appointments…that’s why I believe its an issue more for the ombudsmen and not so much for the minister because the role is neutral and will be able to settle the issue without political taint and with a sensibility of following proper protocol .and maybe that way will lead to a speedier resolution despite the other above comment

  14. stephensmikm@8:02
    “I think personally the minister should probably do a little something about this”
    I’ll raise your ‘little something’ to ‘a great deal’ and your ‘probably’ to ‘definately’.

  15. While I can just remotely empathise with the issue farmers say they face in reverting to a non crate production in reference to loss profits/ greater costs….this is something NZ should have done away with by now and I actually think its a bit of a stink thing from the previous administration that they didn’t deal with this issue when they were in government cause if they had back in 2001 the damned things could be gone by next year if not already!… regardless of that,crush cages are just not something NZers believe in and I don’t mind saying that because I reckon if you walked up to 100 people on the street a good 90 would agree. 2018 is too far away as well which is the big issue, an ombudsman report would at least show NZers what’s happening and force either of the major parties to draw a policy on it to bring forward the ending of Sow crates to 2014/2015 – I reckon that’s the earliest it would reasonably happen…despite the fact that it isn’t really reasonable to keep pigs in little boxes like that. I actually can’t see why we turn a blind eye to it on a practical scale either…I didn’t realise the Pork Industry was big enough in NZ to deserve a blind eye/ animal abuse privilege…apparently so it seems

  16. @stephensmikm 8:02 PM

    I think this is rather pathetic from the Pork Board regardless, I’d like to see an investigation by the ombudsmen into their practises on an administrative level..

    The problem with that suggestion Matt is that, given the delaying and obfuscating tactics of the Pork Board, it could take up to 2 more years for anything to come from an Ombudsmens’ investigation. Two more years of pigs suffering with untreated diseases under appalling conditions that give rise to those disease is not good enough for me.

    David Carter, as the Minister responsible, has the statutory power to act, but he doesn’t seem to have the political will to do so.

    In that regard, he is not alone – Labour Ministers of Agriculture in the last Government turned a blind eye to animal welfare issues re pig farming too.

  17. well in this case it’s really dependant if the minister is satisfied, clearly he is not seeing that as far as I know he hasn’t directed them to comply. I think this is rather pathetic from the Pork Board regardless, I’d like to see an investigation by the ombudsmen into their practises on an administrative level, the farms themselves are something the RSPCA has to contend with and also I think personally the minister should probably do a little something about this, my guess would be he already is…otherwise this might lead to more concerns

  18. You wish photonz1 – Sue has Carter pinned and we can all see it. His disgraceful lack of action around the issue of piggy rights is making him look duplicitous and that’s a look that suits him and his not-to-be-trusted natty mates.
    Lay into him Sue!
    (That’s a wee battery-hen pun there)

  19. Sounds like Sue’s clutching at straws.

    If she clutches at enough, and huffs an puffs a bit, I still don’t think the house will come tumbling down.

    Cause she’s got the wrong house. Pork Board are in the straw one. The Ministers is a bit more solidly built.

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