OPINION: Once again there's a flurry of activity as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Trade Damien O'Connor and a band of dedicated officials and leading agricultural representatives fly into Brussels where the powerful European Union is based.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the decision upholds New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare.
“We must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare is under increasing scrutiny,” O’Connor said.
“This decision will affect some farmers, exporters, and importers and a transition period will enable the sector to adapt.”
Live exports by sea represent approximately 0.2% of New Zealand’s primary sector exports revenue since 2015.
O’Connor acknowledged the economic benefit some farmers get from the trade but noted that support of it is not universal within the sector.
O’Connor said the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) review of live exports, which started in 2019, identified mixed perceptions of the activity.
“There is split opinion about its long-term value and how it fits with the story we want to tell internationally to consumers. In its review submission, the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which advises ministers on animal welfare issues, advised that the practice should stop.”
O’Connor said improvements had been made to the practice over recent years, but despite everyone’s best efforts, the voyage times to our northern hemisphere markets will always pose animal welfare challenges.