Thursday, 04 July 2024 09:55

Editorial: Live animal exports fight

Written by  Staff Reporters

OPINION: A public battle is playing out between supporters and opponents of live animal experts.

Last week, opponents of the ban presented a petition containing 50,000 signatures in Parliament. The petition, organised by Dr John Hellstrom, a respected veterinarian and advisor to previous governments on animal welfare issues, was handed over to former Labour Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, who was responsible for getting the present ban on live animal exports put in place in 2021.

They claim that many countries that buy NZ primary exports are opposed to live animal exports and such a trade may damage these exports.

However, farmers and exporters involved in the $500 million trade aren't staying quiet either. Live Export NZ is setting up a website and planning a media campaign to get their side of the story to the public.

One thing is clear: there's political appetite in Wellington to bring back live exports of animals. All three coalition partners - National, ACT and NZ First - committed during election campaigning to reverse the ban on live exports and put more stringent animal welfare standards in place.

It's now up to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to consult and draft up regulations that will allay the concerns of New Zealanders about the welfare of cows being transported by sea.

Farmers point out that live exports are a significant earner for them when domestic market and environment conditions such as drought are unfavourable.

They accept that New Zealand has an international reputation for strong animal welfare and they are open to recommendations for further protections, including regulation aimed at minimising sea voyage risk from seasonal weather events.

Farmers also claim that the global live cattle trade will continue, but from countries and by exporters with lower animal standards filling the gap enforced on NZ farmers by the ban.

The Government has signalled that new 'gold standard' regulations on live animal exports should be in place by next year. Here's hoping that the new standards will quell the concerns of animal welfare lobbyists.

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