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Factory farm footage prompts call for Animals Commissioner

Media release
June 2014

“Shocking” footage of factory farms prompts call for Commissioner of Animals

Video footage of pig farms released on Sunday’s June 29th programme has prompted the NZ Vegetarian Society to call for the appointment of an independent Commissioner for Animals.

Footage taken by animal rights group, Farmwatch, shows an intensive factory farm where pigs live in squalid conditions, yet meat produced by this farm bears the New Zealand Pork Board’s ‘PigCare’ accreditation.

Overseen by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), the New Zealand Pork Board claims that the ‘PigCare’ rating displayed on pork products allows consumers to be “confident that they are supporting high animal welfare standards”. Under this scheme, any breaches of the Animal Welfare Act are to be reported to the MPI for inspection.

Yet this accreditation was given to products produced by the farm filmed by Farmwatch, which showed pigs in overcrowded, damp, dark pens that were overrun by rats. These conditions were clearly not up to animal living standards, as demonstrated by dead pigs left to rot next to their living counterparts.

While MPI Minster Nathan Guy claims that inspection methods which determine farm’s ‘PigCare’ rating are “extremely robust”, the NZ Vegetarian Society has questioned the credibility of the scheme. Manager Stephanie Lane says the MPI is not the right body to be governing animal welfare standards.

“New Zealand is failing our pigs,” Stephanie says. “The pork industry clearly cannot be relied upon to self-regulate, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, with its obvious conflict of interest when it comes to economics versus welfare, shows no genuine commitment to enforcing animal welfare.”

The NZ Vegetarian Society is now urging the government to appoint an independent Commissioner for Animals, to ensure the protection of New Zealand’s farmed animals and develop a rating system that consumers can rely on.

While the NZ Vegetarian Society does not endorse the consumption of animals, they acknowledge that choosing pork products from independently audited, free-range brands avoids supporting the cruelty of factory farming.

Factory farm conditions are unsatisfactory for any animal, and the fact that pigs are highly intelligent and social makes this treatment even more appalling. It is commonly recognised that pigs have a cogitative ability similar to that of a three-year-old child.

Ultimately, the power to make a change lies with the consumer. Never has the adage “you are what you eat” rung more true. The NZ Vegetarian Society is encouraging consumers to avoid purchasing pork products and show that they will not accept the conditions of factory farming.

“If we buy this pork, then we hold the responsibility for it,” says Stephanie. “The message is clear. Stop the suffering, don’t support the industry – keep pork off your fork.”

- Ends -

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