It's laughable how devoutly Mike King denied having any knowledge of the pig industry and its practices on Close Up last night but may-be it's a sign of the times and something that Farmgirl has been blogging over for some time - the growing gap between producers and consumers.
In this case however, the wounded pork industry has never attempted to hide that there are still sow stalls in this country. Pork Industry Board chairman Chris Trengrove should be applauded not vilified by two henchmen as he was last night. What they don't tell you on that current affairs programme is that Chris has been advocating for change for some years and has steadfastly stuck to the cause of helping the industry get past these practices and has been succeeding.
Farmgirl feels the need to explain the financial difficulties the pork industry has faced over the past decade once again. To be frank the industry nearly went belly up because Canadian pork in particular was being imported into our supermarkets at cut down prices. How were they able to get the pork so cheap when you take into account transport costs? - by producing the pork in far more intensive and disgusting systems then this country has ever had.
This has nearly forced all our pork farmers out of business as consumers have been only too happy to buy cheaper pork, no matter the animal welfare standards and no matter the level of hormones etc in the meat.
To expect that all pork farmers will now release their piggy wiggies onto some hallowed green paddock is ridiculous and hypocritical for the following reasons:
1 The price of imported pork means free range operations are not viable unless the consumer
pays a heck of a lot more as they can not produce as many pigs or fatten as quickly.
2 Free range pork is still a niche market - for the wealthy.
3 Some breeds of pigs are particularly aggressive towards one another. Why didn't King show
the results of sows attacking one another? - it's far more gruesome then the footage shown the
So it seems the NZ consumer has to make their minds up. And herein lies the problem. Our generation more than any other lives in a world where meat is relatively cheap. Where once, having a roast chicken was a looked forward delicacy, it has now become a cheap commodity on the family plate that can be served up every night.
As New Zealanders we expect meat on our plate but once upon a time pork used to be a treat, as was bacon, to be savoured and enjoyed. Now we expect to have it whenever we get the craving.
May-be we need to change our habits?
Farmgirl has recently changed her chicken consumption and now orders $32 fully free ranged chicken from Southland. It is expensive especially with households living on an ever decreasing budget these days, but chicken in Farmgirl's household has now become a rarity and a tasty one at that. It is eaten once every fortnight and every part of the chicken is used for stocks, soups etc. This is one way we can support our pork farmers. Another is by refusing to buy imported pork.
King's hypocrisy won't help the industry - in fact a negative reaction could send our pork farmers under and then we would have to rely on the rubbish that is imported from overseas.
It's up to us.
And if King truly believes in what he's saying and is not trying to pull some publicity stunt to help his career, he should donate all his previous earnings from the Pork Board to S.A.F.E but as the saying goes, pigs might fly...