West Australian pig industry leader, Dawson Bradford, has voiced some concern over the potential raising of production standards and guidelines, warning that if local producers are forced to go too far on such issues it could damage their competitive position in vital Asian markets.
“While I am all for good welfare standards, believing that 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,” said Mr Bradford (pictured avove) who is president of the West Australian Pork Producers’ Association (WAPPA).
“This will not help us compete in Asian markets. If certain parts of the industry want to market their products to greater standards, good luck to them. What we don’t want is to make the minimum acceptable standards greater than that of our competitors.
“If, for example, fresh meat imports are allowed in the future, we will not be able to reverse our standards and guidelines to match those of that country. We would be at a distinct disadvantage in our own market. Why would our industry want to do that?”
Mr Bradford’s stark warning, delivered during WAPPA’s annual meeting, comes as the industry’s standards and guidelines, known as the model code, are being updated.
He was also speaking against the background of an extremely upbeat comment by both the West Australia state government and the Department of Agriculture that the local industry has the potential to grow 10-fold in the future.
“This could change the shape of the WA pig industry,” he said. “However, for this to happen we must be competitive on the world stage. With the changes being touted for the standards and guidelines, this is not going to happen.”