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NPPC welcomes completion of Australian Pork Import Risk Assessment

by 5m Editor
20 February 2004, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON - National Pork Producers Council President Jon Caspers today welcomed the release by the Australian government of its final risk assessment on pork imports but stated that support for the U.S. - Australia Free Trade Agreement would not be forthcoming until Australia implements the decision and U.S. pork exports commence.

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According to Caspers, a pork producer from Swaledale, Iowa, NPPC has been working closely with the Bush Administration and members of the U.S. Congress to get sunlight on Australia's de facto ban on U.S. pork. "The release of this final risk assessment gets us very close to opening the lucrative Australian pork market to U.S. pork," he said.

Caspers expressed concern, however, about the scope of the preliminary risk assessment. "Unfortunately, the Australian Government is recommending that U.S. pork imports be restricted because of concerns about the transmissibility of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Post Weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS) through imported pork to Australian hogs," he said. "The risk assessment limits the U.S. to the Australian market for processed pork, such as ham or bacon, either exported as processed pork from the U.S. or exported as unprocessed U.S. pork for further processing in Australia. We are not being permitted to sell unprocessed U.S. pork to the Australian consumer."

Caspers insisted that U.S. pork producers should have complete access to Australia because there is no significant risk of transmission of PRRS or PMWS from imported pork to domestic livestock. "U.S. pork producers will leave the battle for complete market access in Australia for a later day," he said. Notwithstanding the flaws in the final risk assessment, Caspers stated that the finding, when implemented, will place U.S. producers on an equal footing with producers in Canada and Denmark, the two main global competitors of U.S. pork. Australia places similar restrictions on pork imported from each of these countries. "Sixty percent of the Australian pork market is for processed pork which has a retail value of U.S. about $830 million," Caspers said. "Imports from Canada and Denmark currently account for one-third of the Australian market for processed pork. There are fabulous opportunities for U.S. pork producers in Australia."

According to Caspers, while the Australian announcement is very important, more work needs to be done. "We need a rapid implementation of the final risk assessment so that trade can commence within the next couple of months," he said. Once the market is actually opened and trade is flowing, NPPC leadership will be in a position to work with producers regarding support for the U.S. - Australia Free Trade Agreement. Our producers have lost money for two years and are in dire financial straits. They are not going to have anything positive to say about this Free Trade Agreement until U.S. pork is moving to Australia."

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 19th February 2004

5m Editor