New Zealand Pork chairman stands down
North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter talks about his decision to step down as Chairman of New Zealand Pork.
Mr Carter, who farms at Waianakarua, took up the role in 2011 and was due to relinquish it next year. However, he stood down earlier this month.
Speaking to Central Rural Life on Friday, Mr Carter said some people had asked him why he made his decision, but most respected that he had "done a few years".
He believed not enough pig farmers supported NZ Pork's long-term strategy. They wanted to take a piecemeal approach to fixing issues, rather than an inclusive, bigger-picture approach.
"You've got to be consistent with your messaging, be available to the media, and be proactive,"" he said.
Because no New Zealand pork was exported, and imported pork accounted for about 60% of consumption here, he believed the Government and regulators had a responsibility to keep the locally produced meats available.
He was frustrated that "country of origin" labelling was not used to show consumers where pork came from.
The PigCare initiative launched during his tenure was one of its highlights, he said. Pork with that accreditation was grown in New Zealand under world-class welfare standards, free from added growth hormones and unneeded antibiotics, and compliant with food safety standards.
Pork's Born and Raised in New Zealand "trustmark" had also been adopted by other industries.
Mr Carter had not shied away from responding to animal activists' national campaigns that portrayed pig farms with cramped and unsanitary conditions. He had been interviewed on television and was such a strong advocate for pig farming that he was one of three farmers in the 2017 documentary feature film MEAT.
The director and a cameraman spent five days at Mr Carter's farm, staying with his family and filming everything he did in his working life.
"I was miked up for 12 hours a day."
It was good fun, he told Central Rural Life just before the film premiered in Dunedin last year.
Working with the media was "the most enjoyable part" of his role as chairman, Mr Carter said.
His Ministry for Primary Industries contacts told him they were concerned about his retirement as the NZ Pork chairman, saying it was a loss to the industry.
However, Mr Carter said he was "still very much in the industry, still passionate about it".
He was continuing with some of his responsibilities during the transition period. No successor has been announced.
Media article: 30 May 2018
Imported pork a bio-security risk
While the red meat, dairy and horticulture industries are licking their lips ahead of a potentially lucrative trade deal with the European Union, pig farmers are saying that there is nothing fair about it.
Former chairman for New Zealand Pork, Ian Carter says New Zealanders are unaware of how much imported pork they are consuming.
He says it’s having a “significant effect” on local businesses.
“We’re seeing product coming in at pretty cheap prices from countries like Spain, USA and Canada” Mr Carter said.
“It’s coming in far cheaper than we can produce it under the regulations that we operate under.
Mr Carter said it also having an impact on local red meat sales.
“The fastest growing consumed protein in New Zealand is actually imported pig meat now.”
There are several problems with imported pork including lower animal welfare standards and biosecurity risks.
The Green Party campaigned with an origin labelling policy, but has since gone quiet on the topic, but Mr Carter says this would help New Zealand Pork.
Watch the full interview with Ian Carter here.
Media article: 27 May 2018
Pork industry leader back on the farm
Rob Tipa talks to an industry leader who thrives on the emotional connection the public has with his product.
After seven years as the public face of the pork industry, North Otago farmer Ian Carter has stepped down from the front lines as chairman of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board.
Carter is well-known and respected in the agricultural sector as an outstanding communicator during a difficult period for the pork industry, dealing with challenges over animal welfare standards and competition from cheap imported pork.
A defining hallmark of his leadership style since taking over as board chairman in 2011 has been his accessibility to media and his direct response to challenges from animal welfare activists and industry critics.
Because New Zealand pork producers are not exporters, he explains that they are totally dependent on Kiwi consumers.
New Zealanders are our customers, so if I can't interest you in what I produce I go broke real fast," Carter told NZ Farmer on his Hampden farm a few days after his last meeting as chairman of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board.
"The beauty is we have an emotionally connected consumer," he says. "Whether they like you or not or have heard about pork imports, the public has an emotional connection to the pig industry."
"You've got an engaged audience and that gives you the opportunity to have a discussion and an opportunity to explain our industry."
Carter believes one of the biggest mistakes most corporations and industries make is to have communications staff as the first point of contact to handle inquiries from industry critics and the media.
His front-foot approach has always been to deal with the media personally and directly, making himself available at all hours of the day, seven days a week to handle inquiries.
We put a lot of effort into the media by being open and responsive to their questions and answering with real experience and knowledge," he says. "If extremists' views don't get any oxygen they suffocate."
Being available and accessible "can be a nightmare and is not without risk", he says, but the risk is worth it if it gives pig farmers an opportunity to be heard directly by the audience and their critics.
Carter says 25 years in pork industry politics and seven years at the helm of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board has been challenging but rewarding to build public trust in the industry.
He was "shoulder-tapped" to take on the top job after building a strong network from his work for pig farmers in both the Auckland and Otago/Southland regions.
Pigs are a unique animal with needs that are closer to humans than sheep or cattle, but he says the public doesn't really appreciate that makes them very different animals to farm.
He says his proactive approach to issues has not always been understood by an industry that has faced more challenges than other primary producers.
"I think we've done some good things," he says. "I have enjoyed educating the media and New Zealanders about what we do. So much of what we do is for the good of the animals we care for, which is often misunderstood by the public.
"We care about our animals and we do the right things for our animals for the right reasons, " he says. "Just because you don't understand us, doesn't mean you shouldn't trust us."
Carter counts the introduction of the industry's PigCare programme as one of the greatest successes of his term in office.
The independently verified programme works as an industry trust mark, ensuring pigs born and raised in New Zealand are reared under high standards of animal welfare.
"I can't stress how invaluable that's been to our industry on a whole raft of levels," he says.
One of the biggest calls he made as chairman was for the board to move from Wellington to Christchurch to be closer to commercial interests in the industry rather than politicians and regulators in the capital.
He says a lot of other primary industries are based in Wellington, because that is where they have the most influence with industry regulators, primarily politicians.
"When I sit in on a primary industry meeting in Wellington, I know everyone else in the room will be export focused and all I focus on is the people in the room, because I have to sell to them."
Carter says the decision to move out of the capital had polarised individuals in the industry.
"I've always believed the New Zealand consumer is more critical to me because they have more impact whether my farm is viable or not," he says. "By the time you've changed regulations, the consumer has already moved on and it has cost you in your back pocket.
"The need to have our consumers trust us is equally or more important than solely focusing on the regulator."
Looking back, Carter regards the pork industry as a dynamic leader and barometer for other primary industries, but he does have concerns about competition and compliance issues in future.
"We do it first," he says. "Our biosecurity and animal welfare is awesome, understanding our animals and the response we get from them is amazing."
He believes one of the historic strengths of primary industries in this country is their ability to work together. Now, he says business is so fast-moving every primary producer is looking for a point of difference, normally at the expense of someone else.
"I think the strength of New Zealand is its small business model and we're ruining that rapidly with our increasing compliance requirements. To meet the red tape you have to be of a certain scale to handle compliance with WorkSafe, human resources requirements."
While most pig farms are still family-owned operations, Carter believes the margins are getting tighter and the risks are greater for small businesses.
Despite these challenges, he believes there are still opportunities for young people starting out in the industry, but buying an existing piggery is easier than starting up on a greenfield site.
Since resigning from his role as board chairman before his tenure expires next year, Carter, 54, is looking forward to a bit more time to himself back on his farm in North Otago.
"I never had an aspiration to own a farm," he says. "I didn't think there was an opportunity, to be honest with you. I just accepted that I would be in the corporate world working for others that owned farms."
He came to New Zealand from England when he was 18 months old. After studying farming at high school, he started work on a stud sheep breeding property at 15. By the time he was 19, he was judging poll dorset sheep at A&P shows in Manawatu.
When a job came up in a piggery he took it and that led to a 13-year corporate farming career with a large family-owned investment group in Auckland.
His role went from managing, setting up and expanding a piggery, to running the company's rural division, which included converting three dairy farms and looking after 6000 pigs. The company was eventually split up and he became general manager of a rural investment company.
Still in his late 30s, he was looking for an opportunity to work for himself and was asked to look at a pig farm in North Otago for a potential buyer. After several visits he and his family decided to put in a back-up offer.
Their offer was successful and they moved south for a change of lifestyle and a great place to bring up their three kids, now young adults.
"We bought it as a going concern. I was looking for a challenge and it gave me an opportunity to grow it and build a business," he says.
"There's not a day when I walk across to the piggery – rain, hail or shine – when I don't think, 'This is mine'. I left school at 15, had no money and to think that I now have a farm of 270ha is cool."
The piggery has 200 breeding sows and 2000 pigs, employs two staff and has enabled the family to buy the neighbouring land, on which they run 550 friesian beef bulls.
"The piggery takes priority, that's where the money is made or lost," Carter says. "The pigs come first and we fit other farm work around them."
While he is not actively looking for work, he has a lot of connections in agriculture and has already been approached by a number of organisations.
In the meantime, he is looking forward to more time to himself for golf, tennis and motor sports. In his spare time he is the navigator of a World Series jet sprint boat, races karts and enjoys driving his classic muscle cars.
"I couldn't go back to just farming sheep and cattle," he says. "If we make a change with our pigs we can see results in pretty quick time. Pigs are such a rewarding and responsive animal to farm."
Media article: 24 May 2018
ENTRIES OPEN FOR PORK, BACON AND HAM AWARDS
New Zealand’s greatest butchers and meat producers will once again compete to showcase their unique skills and innovative products this June, with entries now open for this year’s New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.
The competition – which draws hundreds of entries from butchers, producers and deli owners nationwide – will present awards for Innovative Pork, Convenient Pork, as well as a range of categories featuring prime New Zealand bacon and ham.
Chairman Ben Voice says NZ Pork founded the awards to provide retailers the opportunity to showcase their very best PigCare
“The awards demonstrate the outstanding quality, flavour and taste that can be achieved by combining New Zealand born and raised pork with the skills and creativity of local butchers,” he says.
“It's also a great way for local retailers to promote their own commitment to excellence.”
Judged by a panel of over 30 chefs, food connoisseurs and master butchers, Mr. Voice says the New Zealand Pork Bacon and Ham awards highlight the innovation, skill and experience of the country’s best butchers.
“Last year, some of the country’s best retailers took home our Supreme Awards for their creativity and unique use of flavours,” he says.
“So we’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s participants bring to the table.”
Entries for the awards close on Friday 1st June, with judging taking place in Auckland on Thursday 5th July. The winners will then be celebrated at a special Awards Dinner during NZ Pork’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday 2nd August.
Retailers can enter as many products in as many categories as they like, however products cannot be entered into the same category multiple times. Entry is restricted to PigCare
For more information or to enter, head to nzpork.co.nz/events.
Media release: 14 May 2018
Welfare starts with the farmers
Farming livestock in New Zealand has become a complex and challenging occupation that outgoing NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter says needs to be addressed. Annette Scott reports.
Despite farmers having access to more science-based research and data than ever before, there’s an increasing disconnect between the realities of farming practices and the views of the public, retiring NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter says.
Carter, who will retire this month after serving seven years representing the industry in both governance and management, said while the primary sector has to recognise the concerns of consumers and work closely with regulators to ensure production meets best-practice standards, ultimately farmers are best-placed to manage the complex needs of their animals.
He said a prime example of the issue, and one of the most misunderstood and controversial processes in modern farming, is the farrowing system used by pig farmers.
“The first farrowing crates or pens were developed by farmers over a hundred years ago and the reasons farmers built them then is the same basis on which they are used now,” Carter said.
Despite being the subject of considerable research, testing and modification over this time, they are designed to care for the sow and her new born piglets.
The most stressful time for any animal is when they are giving birth.
“Whether it is calving, lambing or farrowing, this stage of the biological process is the most critical for both the survival of the newborn and the farmer’s livelihood,” Carter said.
“Significant planning and resources go into this on every farm across the country, although for most species, this happens just once per year.
“Like humans, pigs are not seasonal breeders and therefore require this level of resourcing to be available all year round and to manage all environmental conditions.
“This allows the pig farmer to justify building extremely specialist maternity facilities to care for their animals.”
Farrowing systems have continually evolved with the adoption of new technology and materials and as farmers gain greater understanding of changing dynamics of modern pigs.
“Farmers strive to provide the conditions that allow their animals to express their potential.
“It is extremely satisfying to see experience and best practice, science, research and modern technology all combine to improve the outcomes for both the mother and her offspring – very much like we are continually trying to do in the human population.”
The maternity area of the farm is by far the most expensive area to set up. It is also the area that gets the most specialist care and human input for the sole reason of looking after the sow and her newly born piglets.
“We go to great lengths to provide for the needs of the expectant mother by providing a warm, hygienic pen protected from predators and with a ready supply of fresh food and water to meet her needs.
“She can focus on giving birth to her piglets without most of the stresses she would experience in the wild.”
Carter said too much of farmers’ ability and right to farm is driven by misunderstood public perception.
“A lot of the publicly promoted debate fails to take into account the established science our industry has relied on to inform the development of our modern farming practices.
“Our focus is on putting the needs of the animal at the centre of the farming practice.
“Provided those needs are being well met, we believe the farmer, with support from the industry body, research scientists and specialist vets, is the best placed to balance the needs of the animal, the commercial requirements of their business and the stewardship of their environment.
“It is our view, reinforced by the established science, both here and overseas, that for farmers that choose this method, the farrowing crate provides the best balance between the needs of the sow and her piglets.”
NZ Pork’s view is shared by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) which concluded its study of farrowing crates in 2016.
In its review, which recommended farrowing crates be retained, NAWAC stated that “although NAWAC believes that the confining of sows in farrowing crates for this length of time does not provide for every behavioural need of sows, their use provides the best welfare outcome for piglets and the best total welfare of piglets and sows, based on currently available farrowing practices and scientific knowledge and as appropriate to the environment and circumstances of the animals.”
While many of the arguments put forward in public ignore the available science, Carter said it is more frustrating for farmers to see the attempt to undermine the local industry.
“As local farmers will know, the standard of care provided to animals in New Zealand, underscored by the PigCare
“This should be of real concern to local consumers, given 60% of pork products consumed in this country come from imported meat.
“Our understanding is that few local consumers are fully aware of the volume of imported meat they have in their diet and it is likely that any concern they have for animal welfare would be more appropriately directed to the source of imported pork, which arrives in this country without any requirement to meet our animal welfare standards.”
Ultimately the debate reinforces that the primary sector must work constantly to ensure consumers are able to understand the research, expertise and care that goes into producing the food they buy for their families.
“But unless we can ensure consumers that our regulators and other stakeholders have all the information available we may lose the ability to choose farming practices we believe are best for our animals, our environment and provide a quality protein for New Zealanders in a sustainable manner.”
Media release: 3 May 2018
PORK, BACON AND HAM AWARDS SHOWCASE OUTSTANDING NZ PRODUCE
Winners announced at New Zealand Pork’s annual pork, bacon and ham awards gala dinner
Farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered in Christchurch last night to celebrate the best flavours, styles and cooking innovations at the tenth annual New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards, announced last night at a gala dinner at Christchurch’s Sudima Hotel.
The competition, which was judged at the end of June in Auckland, provided over 50 pork retailers from across the country with the platform to present the very best of their New Zealand born and raised pork products.
This year’s awards were sponsored by Halley Labels, Pacific Flavours and Five Star Pork, and hosted a record 223 entries, showcasing outstanding products from nine categories, divided among five bacon, two ham and two pork classes.
The winners announced last night included the presentation of this year’s supreme winners: Cameron Harrison Butchery (Bacon), Aussie Butcher New Lynn (Ham) and Grey Lynn Butchers (Pork).
New Zealand Pork General Manager Sonya Matthews says over the past ten years the competition has grown into a nationally recognised event.
“We are extremely pleased with the record number of entrants this year – especially because it is the competition’s tenth consecutive year.
“The number of entrants has progressively grown year-after-year, and we could not be happier with the quality of produce that is submitted.” she says.
In celebration of the competition’s success, this year included a special presentation for the Producer of the Decade, received by Ellesmere Butchery in Canterbury.
The awards also included categories that reflect the evolving demands of local consumers. The innovative category asks for entrants to showcase something new, while the convenient category looks for a quick and easy weekday meal that can be cooked in under 20 minutes.
“The innovative category is one of my favourites, because it highlights just how versatile pork products are.” Ms. Matthews says.
Those competing in bacon have the opportunity to present dishes that use up to five different types of bacon: middle, dry cured, shoulder, streaky and middle eye. While boneless ham is judged separately to in-bone leg ham.
Head judge and chef at Wellington’s Brentwood Hotel, Glenn Curphey, says this year’s standard was outstanding.
“There was a lot of craftsmanship and creativity displayed. The sheer number of entries tells us that there are a lot of people around the country who take a lot of pride in what they do and what they’re selling.”
The competition’s judges were made up of food writers, meat experts, traders and chefs.
“We had a really nice mix of judges, across the board. It was quite a broad spectrum of opinions and ideas, which worked really well.”
The NZQA qualified judge who has been involved in competitions both regionally and nationally, says it took a lot of thoughtful consideration to come to the final winners.
“We look at the textures, the mouth-feel, the taste, the colouring of the meat, the plating and presentation, the moisture content and the fat ratio.”
“This year’s standard was so high that we really struggled, but our supreme winners showcased some amazing food. By the final round, we had all agreed on who our winners would be.”
Each category is judged by a panel of four judges in pairs, and the top scoring dishes are then put through to a second round to determine the medal placings.
From there, each category’s winner is judged a final time to reach the three supreme winners.
Mr. Curphey says while the judging process was long, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
“It was particularly long for the streaky bacon judges who had over 40 entries to taste. So, it was really important to keep their palettes refreshed.”
“There were a couple of flavourings used this year that I found really interesting. For example, chilli bacon and pepper crusted pork – we had to really think about how they achieved the end result because it was a blind tasting.”
General Manager Sonya Matthews says NZ Pork was extremely pleased with this year’s competition, and would like to thank all the entrants for the work they put into their entries.
“The awards are a great opportunity for our retailers and butchers to present the fantastic produce they sell, and showcase their skills in preparing and cooking New Zealand pork, bacon and ham.
“Our farmers work extremely hard to provide New Zealanders with quality pork products that are born and raised in New Zealand, so it is great to see retailers promote them in such a fantastic way.” she says.
Earlier this month, New Zealand Pork introduced the new Born and Raised in New Zealand pork labels for local retailers. Products carrying this label provide the assurance for Kiwi consumers that they are sourced from pigs that were born and raised with care by New Zealand farmers.
Click here for the full list of Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards winners
New Zealand Pork is the statutory industry board that works to support New Zealand’s pork producers and farmers, building a sustainable future and ensuring high standards of animal welfare.
Media release: 25 July 2017
NZ Pork welcomes Government focus on biosecurity
The announcement of additional operating funding for biosecurity is a vital protection for the country’s primary industries, according to New Zealand Pork.
NZ Pork, the statutory board that works on behalf of local pig farmers, says that as one of the world’s leading high-health primary industries, the local pork production sector sees biosecurity as vitally important.
Over $18million of operating funding over four years was included in Budget 2017 to help secure the biosecurity system and protect New Zealand’s borders.
NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter says the increase in biosecurity funding reinforces how important an issue it is not only to the primary industry and the economy, but also the well-being of all New Zealanders
“One of the unique things about the New Zealand pork industry, for example, is that our producers grow food purely for the local market,” says Ian Carter.
“They feel very strongly that as we are providing products that will feed our neighbours, we must do everything possible to maintain the health of our herds and biosecurity of our operations.”
“New Zealand’s high animal health status not only provides for better welfare of our animals but also minimises the need for antibiotic use unlike most of the countries exporting pork to New Zealand.”
NZ Pork dedicates a considerable portion of its operating budget every year to monitoring emerging risks and biosecurity threats from overseas and providing best-practice education for commercial pig farmers.
“This has enabled us to establish an international reputation as a high-health status industry.”
“But everyone – from the Government, to ordinary New Zealanders, to overseas visitors – has a role to play in ensuring our borders are protected from pests and diseases, which could cost the primary industry and the wider economy dearly.”
“This latest Budget injection is a strong signal of the Government’s commitment to the protection of the safe food we enjoy in New Zealand.”
Mr Carter says one area the Government could also address is Country of Origin labelling, to help local consumers make an informed choice when they are buying food for their families.
“We note that the new investment will include a review of Import Health Standards (IHS) to ensure they are up-to-date. However, the Import Health Standards don’t include any animal welfare components, which are the standards our local industry has to meet in order to gain PigCare
“We believe this is an important distinction – one we’re reinforcing through our new ‘Born and Raised in New Zealand labelling – that Kiwis care about, if they have enough information to make a choice.”
For further information on PigCare
Media release: 26 May 2017
NZ PORK WELCOMES CROSS PARTY SUPPORT FOR COUNTRY OF ORGIN LABELLING
Consumers’ Right To Know Bill going to Select Committee
Cross party support for the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin Food) Bill, heading to the Select Committee stage, is a true reflection of Kiwi consumers’ attitudes, according to the latest research by NZ Pork.
NZ Pork, the statutory board that works on behalf of local pig farmers, promotes a high standard of animal welfare and a sustainable future for the local industry has been calling for all parties to back the bill.
According to in-depth independent consumer research, currently being conducted by NZ Pork, New Zealanders expect that the meat they buy in New Zealand is born and raised here.
NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter says, for example, around 60 per cent of pork sold in New Zealand is imported, from 20 countries around the world.
“Based on our research, New Zealanders would be very surprised to learn how high the levels of imported food products are in some popular categories,” says Ian Carter.
“The expectation of Kiwi shoppers is that, if a product isn’t from here, they should be told where it is from so they can make an informed choice.”
Seventy per cent of New Zealanders support mandatory country of origin labelling for meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts, according to a recent poll.
NZ Pork is currently refreshing its labelling for New Zealand grown pork products to emphasise both country of origin and its PigCare
“We hope as this bill progresses, more of our elected representatives will recognise the wishes of their constituents and provide the opportunity for local consumers to understand more about where their food is sourced.”
For further information on PigCare
Media release: 13 April 2017
KIWI SHOPPERS SUPPORT COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELLING
Independent research by NZ Pork backs the Green’s Consumers’ Right To Know Bill
Independent research into the attitudes of local consumers, commissioned by NZ Pork, reinforces public support for the Green Party’s Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin Food) Bill, currently before Parliament.
NZ Pork, the statutory board that works on behalf of local pig farmers, promotes a high standard of animal welfare and a sustainable future for the local industry, is joining widespread calls from the food sector for all parties to back the bill.
The organisation recently commissioned independent research for it’s own country of origin food labelling. The survey of over 300 New Zealand household shoppers found that when considering the benefits of buying a local product, 86 per cent believed New Zealand’s food quality regulations were of a higher standard and 76 per cent felt New Zealand has better farming practices than other countries.
NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter says local consumers believe it is very important to know where their food comes from, so they can make an informed choice when feeding their families.
“Our own country of origin labelling research has highlighted the importance Kiwi consumers put on knowing more about how their food is produced and where it is sourced from,” says Ian Carter.
“In particular, New Zealanders want to understand the standards that govern how their food was grown or raised – something they feel they know less about when it comes to imported products.”
Based on their research, NZ Pork is introducing additional labelling for their PigCare
Almost 60 per cent of pork products consumed in New Zealand are currently imported. Imported pork does not have to meet New Zealand’s high animal welfare standards.
“By providing country of origin labelling Kiwi consumers are not only able to choose to support the local industry which employs many New Zealanders and contributes to the local economy, they are also able to make selections that reflect their own standards in terms of care, expertise and welfare in the farming practice.”
“NZ Pork hopes to see all our elected members from across the political spectrum support the right of New Zealand consumers to make that informed choice through compulsory Country of Origin labelling.”
For further information on PigCare
Media release: 10 March 2017
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At New Zealand Pork, we do our very best to support our industry and its people. One way we are able to do this is by providing producers, farmers and other interested stakeholders with up to date market information and industry data.
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It is released in the first quarter of each year. You can download the 2017 Annual Report or request a hard copy by contacting us.New Zealand Pork Industry Board
Briefing to the 52nd Parliament of New Zealand 2018
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From time to time, New Zealand Pork publishes guidelines, regulation updates and manuals to support farming best practices.
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