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Federated Farmers Is Supporting Negligence - SPCA

“Federated Farmers Is Supporting Negligence” - SPCA

The Royal New Zealand SPCA says Federated Farmers is supporting and condoning negligence, through agreeing to fund a Northland farming couple’s appeal in an animal welfare case.

Last week, Federated Farmers announced that its legal “fighting fund” was to be used in a bid to secure a reversal of the District Court decision in the High Court in Whangarei.

Bruce Riddell Jonson and Jan Dorothy Jonson were fined $4,000 by the Kaikohe District Court in April this year for failing to move their cattle to safer ground ahead of flooding. The cattle subsequently had to swim for their lives through floodwaters. The court also awarded $1,915 to the SPCA for expenses involved in prosecuting the case.

“We are very disappointed by Federated Farmers’ approach to this case. By agreeing to fund the appeal, they have agreed to support and condone negligence,” says the Royal New Zealand SPCA’s National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.

“The court’s decision was in line with the 1999 Animal Welfare Act, which establishes a clear duty of care towards animals. The judgement also reflected the act’s sentencing provisions. It is regrettable that a respected and influential body such as Federated Farmers does not wish to see the law applied.

“This was not a case of responsible farmers being caught out by circumstances that were difficult to foresee or to judge. As the District Court noted, the accused had the benefit of heavy rain forecasts. They also had advice, example and offers of assistance from local farmers.

“It is quite simply not acceptable for Federated Farmers’ Vice President, Charlie Pedersen, to now argue that it was legitimate for the accused to ignore the weather forecast on the grounds that forecasts are sometimes wrong. Imagine the consequences in terms of lives and expense if airlines, fishing crews or yacht owners followed that logic.

“The negligence shown in this case was certainly not typical of our farming community. The fact is that it was local farmers who reported this case to the SPCA.

“Most New Zealand farmers take a highly responsible and painstaking approach to animal welfare. Some of them may now feel ill-served by Federated Farmers’ support for a lower standard of responsibility than the law prescribes,” Robyn McDonald adds.

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