When Mike King, comedian, celebrity, and front-man for the pork industry’s advertisements for the past few years found out the truth about the industry he was promoting, he says he was “deeply ashamed”. What worse news could there be for an image-conscious industry who doesn’t want their consumers and the public to know about their cruel and disgusting practices?
The following is the original video of Mike King breaking into a pig factory farm to find out for himself whether the claims by animal rights activists were true. The video was produced by NZ Open Rescue.
The response from the Minister of Agriculture, David Carter was interesting to say the least. Unlike the previous two ministers, Carter seemed initially reluctant to defend the practices in the footage he was shown. He told the Sunday Programme, “It’s a bit disturbing… To see animals in that, in those confined conditions I didn’t find it something that I was very comfortable with”
While at first glance I thought this to be a nice refreshing attitude from a new Minister, his subsequent comments have left me with no doubt that it was little more than an exercise in public relations. While claiming he suspected the conditions shown in the footage were not typical, he said he would only act if a review due later this year recommended it. Never mind that NAWAC (the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee) who will be doing the review are the same committee who recommended the current Pigs Code of Welfare which legalizes the very practices Carter claims to find disturbing.
Yesterday Carter publicly challenged SAFE to reveal the location of the farm so it can be inspected by his ministry. “The television images were disturbing. It is essential we find out if this intensive pig farming operation is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act,” he told TVNZ. “If SAFE has the welfare of these animals at heart, it needs to provide details of the property today so the authorities can the take appropriate action. I have asked MAF to undertake an inspection as soon as we know the farm’s location.”
Well today the minister is getting what he asked for. SAFE have now revealed that the owner of the farm in question is a leading pig industry representative and former director of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board, who owns five piggeries.
“The owner of the intensive piggery at the centre of public outrage is no rogue farmer. He owns several intensive piggeries worth an estimated $4m. This farm has previously been investigated by MAF, who found nothing in breach of the law. The farm is disgusting but appears to be operating within the law, so we doubt if MAF will find anything different this time,” says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.
So it seems the farm in question has already been investigated by MAF who found it to be operating within in the law. Footage taken by animal rights activists in 2006 which led to MAF investigating shows the same conditions as the footage shown on the Sunday Programme. Is David Carter going to waste more time and resources investigating a standard and legal practice, or will he now take real action and ensure the review later this year leads to a ban on intensive factory farming?
Prime Minister John Key in his press conference yesterday said, “I think if that is indicative of a large number of piggeries around New Zealand then there’s an absolute need for change”.
Over 22,000 pregnant sows live in sow stalls in New Zealand. It now having been revealed there was nothing illegal about the conditions on the farm exposed, will the Prime Minister immediately follow up his rhetoric with a ban?
Last night on Close Up the Chairman of the Pork Board, Chris Trengrove, also claiming to be “horrified” by the Open Rescue footage, agreed to an invitation by Close Up presenter Mark Sainsbury to accompany the programme on random checks of pig farms today. I really hope this goes ahead, and that it includes inspections not just of “show farms” the Pork Board is happy for us to see, but also those animal rights activists can give them the locations of.
While attacking National’s response on this issue, it should be noted that Labour’s track-record is even worse. I challenge the Labour Party, who currently have no official policy on factory farming to take a stance one way or the other. The public deserves to know where our political parties stand on this issue. Kudos to the Greens for having been actively opposed to factory farming for a very long time.
Having been onto half a dozen pig factory farms myself, I can state categorically that the conditions on the farm shown are typical in New Zealand. I find it beyond belief that every time footage is screened on television of factory farms (pigs or chickens), the industry claims it to be a one off example. It’s about time a real process for change was put in place and some real consultation done to find out what farming practices the public is comfortable with. Public polling shows that a large majority of the public are opposed to battery hen farming, and I imagine the figure would be largely the same for all intensive factory farming.
For those who want to take further action, I urge you to boycott all factory farmed products, and to visit SAFE’s LovePigs website and send an e-card to your local MP and the Minister David Carter.
– Rochelle Rees