Farmers are being overwhelmed by pressure to comply with new regulations.
Federated Farmers animal welfare spokesman Miles Anderson says the money spent on the framework would be better spent elsewhere, such as addressing New Zealand's horrific statistics on children.
She says the new framework, drawn up after eight months of discussions, is “clear, transparent and inclusive”.
Whaitiri, the first dedicated minister for animal welfare, foreshadowed plans for a new way forward at the Animal Welfare Advocate Hui held in South Auckland last month. This event was also attended by the Greens’ Gareth Hughes and New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson.
“New Zealanders take animal welfare very seriously and in response this Government is committed to improving animal welfare outcomes in Aotearoa,” Whaitiri says.
“This framework for action is the result of eight months of discussions with stakeholders; conversations which signalled it is time for a more open and engaged relationship -- one where Government, industry, farmers, campaign advocates and New Zealanders work together to improve our animal welfare system.”
At the hui, some animal rights lobbyists called for a clampdown on the dairy industry. However, Whaitiri says the Government has no plans to ban dairying or push for a reduction in cow numbers.
She says the dairy industry is working very hard to improve animal welfare, pointing out the work done on bobby calf treatment onfarm as directed by new regulations.
“There has been a significant reduction in bobby calf mortality rates -- down to 0.06% in 2017, the lowest rate yet recorded,” she says. About 1.77 million bobby calves are sent for slaughter every year.
The new framework moots the creation of an independent voice on animal welfare, more inclusive decisionmaking and a stronger, more effectively monitored code of welfare system.
“We are also prioritising [better] animal welfare outcomes and developing the skills of those at the [forefront] of this issue,” says Whaitiri.
“With modern consumers more discerning, I want these outcomes to contribute to New Zealand keeping its competitive advantage as a safe food producer.”
The framework will go to the Cabinet for approval.
A new framework
The new Framework for Action on Animal Welfare aims to:
- Have an independent voice to ensure advice on animal welfare is future-thinking, timely and trusted (looking at a commissioner for animals)
- Establish a cross-party animal welfare working group in Parliament
- Identify animal welfare information by MPI and make it publicly available
- Ensure greater participation of interest groups
- Strengthen animal welfare codes
- Review the use of animals in entertainment
- Keep watch on breeding standards for companion animals
- Bring focus back to good animal husbandry
- Ensure local government is well placed to meet its responsibilities for animal welfare.