Bootleggers and Baptists: Animal Cruelty Edition [updated]

Unsurprisingly, pig farmers are using recent controversy in New Zealand over sow crates to argue for protection against international competition:

Blame imported pork for keeping sows in cramped stalls, say three Taranaki pig farmers.

The intensive farming practice of keeping breeding sows in stalls has been in the spotlight since TV1’s current affairs programme Sunday showed scenes filmed inside a Levin piggery.

But three of Taranaki’s 25 pig farmers say sow stalls are only one part of a very complex issue.

Taranaki District Pig Committee chairman Ted Gane said it was cheap imported pork, grown using sow stalls, that forced local farmers to use the same system to remain competitive.

“Currently 40 per cent of our meat comes from overseas and I can say that 100 per cent of that would come from sow stalls.” (…)

[Free-range Inglewood pig farmer Helen Foreman] believed without a duty or tax on imported pork, farmers raising pigs indoors would be hard-pressed to afford improvements because there was too much pressure to keep prices down. Free range organic Stratford pig farmer John Earley agreed money was what keeps sows in stalls and pigs in cramped pens.

“It’s all about money and it’s got nothing to do with livestock management. I farm pigs outside and keep six per hectare. That is what it takes if you want to grass feed them. Now you can get a lot of buildings on that much land.”

The paper from Bruce Yandle explaining it all is here.

Update: Matt Nolan and Paul Walker share their thoughts. Update 2: Eric Crampton joins the discussion.

3 Responses

  1. […] Brad Taylor has an interesting post discussing how New Zealand pig farmers are using the issue of stall vs non-stall pigs as a way to increase protectionism in the New Zealand pork industry. […]

  2. “Blame imported pork for keeping sows in cramped stalls, say three Taranaki pig farmers.”

    Brad. I argue here that banning imports will not help pig welfare. If the use of stalls is profit maximising before a ban, it still is after a ban.

  3. […] press; the econ discussion subsequent to the popular outrage has been rather good, as noted below.]Brad Taylor points out that domestic pig farmers are making the best of some bad press by using the video in a […]

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