Pig farmers rebel against new national PigPass system

Richard Cole, "Lachlandale", says the new PigPass system is complete overreach for the pork industry.
Richard Cole, "Lachlandale", says the new PigPass system is complete overreach for the pork industry.

The new national PigPass scheme is just an attempt to give someone in an office a job, according to leading pig farmer Richard Cole, “Lachlandale”, Forbes.

Worse still, he says the new scheme endangers the health of pigs by insisting on new ear tags.

Last week Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced mandatory reporting of all pig movements under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), to be introduced by all state and territory governments from February 1, to bring the pig industry into line with cattle, sheep and goat industries.

 Also ear tags or tattoos would be used to identify animals. All pig movements onto farms, saleyards, showgrounds and abattoirs were to be documented in a database using a National Vendor Declaration. “Strong traceability is a key part of a strong biosecurity system,” Mr Littleproud said.

“PigPass means animals can be identified quickly and allows the property of birth and residence to be easily located if there were ever a food safety issue or exotic disease outbreak.”

But pig farmers say the scheme has been pushed on them and they were going to confront officials from Australia Pork Limited, who they say were pushing the scheme, to object to it, but they did not turn up at recent Forbes sale.

Farmers say they will have to bear the cost and fear the pig slaughter levy will be raised to fund PigPass.

“I’d say 95-98 per cent of pigs are reared and raised on one farm and then go straight to slaughter,” Mr Cole said. 

“This is a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing. I don’t know one pig producer who supports this. We already have a national vendor declaration system and that goes straight to the agent. And if they are advocating ear tags, guess what is going to happen? A pig will see blood and start eating the other pig’s ear.

“These people would be better getting off their butt and start spending money on shooting or controlling feral pigs, that would do more for agriculture than PigPass.” 

“All this is doing is creating a job for someone in an office and we have to pay for it.

“I don’t see what they are trying to achieve.”

Deb Kerr, General Manager Policy, Australian Pork Limited says the introduction of mandatory reporting of all pig movements recognises the importance of a robust traceability system.

“Australia’s valuable pork export market, worth approximately $136 million, relies on our herd remaining disease-free, so we need effective biosecurity measures in place to maintain consumer confidence in Australian pork.

“PigPass has been designed in partnership with industry to make it quick and easy to record pig movements,” Ms Kerr said.

APL says meat processors must ensure all pigs received have a completed PigPass and ‘close the loop’ on traceability by entering the originating sender’s serial number from PigPass online and completing all the required information.

“As a legal declaration, PigPass includes critical information to ensure food safety and traceability. From 1 February 2018, processing any pigs that do not have a completed PigPass could result in a penalty notice.”

Ms Kerr says PigPass will ensure that the transport of pigs meets traceability requirements for optimising any emergency disease outbreak response.

“We need effective biosecurity measures in place to maintain consumer confidence in our valuable export market.

“PigPass will help to quickly determine the source of a disease outbreak and notify pig owners to protect animals and most importantly, stop the spread of disease,” Ms Kerr said.