Tongan community concerned about changes to pig farming

Source: 1News

Pasifika communities say they are concerned about sourcing whole pigs for cultural events after proposed changes to commercial pig farms.

A pig on a spit.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) have proposed around a 100 new changes, but farmers are most concerned about new rules for pig spacing limits, farrowing crates and the weaning age for piglets.

The Tongan community uses pigs for important occasions like church events, birthdays, weddings, the birth of a child, and funerals.

There are fears the proposed regulations will reduce the availability of New Zealand pork, raising the price making it out of reach for the Pasifika community.

Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka says an independent report commissioned by the Government shows consumers would have to pay at least 18% more for NZ pork to cover farmers' costs if the changes go ahead.

"Having a whole pig for significant events is an intrinsic part of Pasifika culture. We are worried these higher costs and reduced numbers of New Zealand-born and raised pigs will make it difficult to source whole pigs.

"We are also concerned it could result in community members sourcing whole pigs more cheaply and easily from unregulated backyard sellers, with associated health risks and no assurances around the pigs’ welfare," he said.

Maka says it’s illegal to sell or trade home-kill meat in New Zealand and wants the Government to consider how the proposed changes will affect his community.

Pig farmers also say they are concerned and that the new proposals could put them out of business.

These proposals only apply to local pork, so imported pork goods don't need to meet the same standards, farmers here say it would give overseas competitors a huge advantage.

READ MORE: Pig farmers fear animal welfare proposals could doom industry

Pig farmer Sean Molloy told 1News last month the changes could be the end for his family farm that’s been operating for 41 years.

"I feel like a stunned mullet, still trying to process it all because the changes are so crazy, it’s going to be hard to survive after this, there's definitely going to be people drop out of the industry."

In June, National Animal Welfare advisory committee chair Gwyneth Verkerk said: "Despite the industry's assertions, I am certain that there will still be plenty of pigs available after the (as yet to be determined) regulatory changes come into effect."