THE Productivity Commission will undertake a safeguards inquiry into the impact of pig-meat imports on the Australian pork industry.
The Australian Pork-suppor-ted announcement was made by the Federal Government last month.
Australian Pork chief execu-tive Andrew Spencer said Aus-tralian producers were caught in a vicious cost price squeeze with record levels of imports acting to suppress farm gate prices.
Mr Spencer said feed grain costs’ upward spiral was a direct result of the drought and it was compounding the import problem.
No industry could continue to operate under the conditions and with high production costs and low pig prices, the industry would hit a crisis point and pos-sibly collapse if action was not taken, he said.
Pigmeat imports had doubled since 2005-2006 because of high prices for domestic pigmeat and an attractive Australian dollar.
“To put this into perspective, 110,000t of frozen pork, equiva-lent to 3.1 million pigs a year, was imported in 2006-2007, thereby displacing local pork in the ham, bacon and smallgoods market,” Mr Spencer said.
“This amount of frozen pigmeat is equivalent to 5kg of pork for every Australian man, woman and child.”
Mr Spencer said the industry in recent years had made significantly increased sales of Austraian-raised fresh pork, as well as in reducing production costs.
But all of those benefits had been undermined with the import surge, leaving the industry in a precarious position.
The commission’s work corresponds with Australia’s safeguard procedures, which have been notified to the WTO.
If the safeguards are found to be justified the commission will report on what measures are needed to prevent or repair serious injury, facilitate adjustment and whether they should be implemented, Mr Spencer said.
The report will be avilable in December.
The Commission will also consider the Cooperative Research Centre’s work on an internationally competitive pork industry.
It will examine whether the industry has changed since an August 2005 inquiry in to pigmeat producers.
The commisson may recommend if the action could change the price and availability of feed grain.