“For growth to happen, we must be globally competitive and with the changes touted for the standards and guidelines – also known as the model code – this isn’t going to happen,” Dawson told the WAPPA AGM on on 17 August.
“While I am all for good welfare standards and believe those who don’t comply should be shunned from the industry, I can’t understand why anyone would want to go above their competitor’s level.
“We don’t want to make the minimum acceptable standards greater than that of our competitors, as that will not help us compete in Asian markets.”
The pork industry has been identified by the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia as a sector that could grow ten-fold in the coming years.
Australia has seen rampant growth in its pork industry, with pig numbers in Western Australia alone rising by more by than 10% for the third year in row. Demand for pork has been driven by a surge in free-range meat, as well as steady demand for exports.
But more and more pork producers have moved away from intensive farming practices to eco-shelters and free-range meat systems. Dr Kate Savage, a veterinarian at Protec, said this was positive, but has warned pork producers that heat stress could affect mating.
With this in mind, she said, animal welfare of pigs remains a paramount concern, especially as producers will have less control over temperature and the time pigs spend outdoors.
“WA producers have seen good pig prices, hopefully putting them in a good financial position, so the aim now should be to reinvest back into the farms and continue to look into lowering cost of production, which will help ensure a viable and bright future for WA producers in the years ahead,” said WAPPA executive committee member Dean Romaniello.