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Sutton Needs To Consider All Options

22 April 2002

"Jim Sutton should not rush into a knee-jerk reaction and ban feral venison exports without proper consideration of the ramifications of such a move," says National's Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Mr Herlihy's comments follow reports that the Agriculture Minister is looking at imposing a ban on all wild deer meat exports from this country. This follows reports that MAF withdrew export certification for some feral venison, after deer poachers were arrested with meat that may have been contaminated with poison.

"Nothing is more important or sacred to New Zealand's agricultural export industry than our integrity and reputation for producing high-quality, safe food and everything must be done to protect this.

"However, the Minister must not let the actions of a handful of rouge poachers put an entire industry at risk. This decision cannot be made lightly as the livelihoods of many hundreds of people involved in the commercial feral venison industry would be ruined if a ban on wild deer meat exports were imposed."

Mr Herlihy believes the issue should more about the credibility of the export certification process for feral venison rather than the integrity of the whole industry.

He is also critical about how some media - particularly television - depicted this story and MAF's role in this.

"Overseas customers could have easily inferred from the TV news coverage of this story that contaminated New Zealand feral venison had been unearthed in the marketplace - when this was clearly not the case.

"Jim Sutton will be more aware than most about the importance of New Zealand agricultural produce's reputation and how it is portrayed in overseas markets. He must ensure that MAF officials are more careful about the way they deal with media over certain issues and not get involved in sensationalism.

"Such a misleading impression puts an unnecessary slur on our products and the unwelcome international spotlight on the integrity of all New Zealand's agricultural exports. MAF should more careful in the future," Gavan Herlihy concluded.

Ends

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