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Charges laid after dairy farmer cruelty exposed by SAFE

SAFE is pleased to see charges laid against a Northland contract milker who was caught beating cows with a pipe, but urge that without proper regulatory enforcement, animal cruelty will continue to be a blight on New Zealand’s reputation.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today announced that the contract milker will face six charges under the Animal Welfare Act. The charges come six months after SAFE released Farmwatch’s hidden camera footage.

SAFE Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald welcomes news of the charges, but the history of this case shows our system for protecting animal welfare is broken.

“The farmer needs to be held responsible and we’re glad to see that he has been charged under the Animal Welfare Act. However, the party that hasn’t been held responsible is MPI,” says Ms Macdonald.

“MPI had received numerous complaints about this farmer prior to SAFE and Farmwatch’s investigation, yet they only made a cursory visit to the farm and took no further action. After MPI’s failings, it was left up to volunteer investigators to expose this cruelty.”

“MPI only responded to the abuse after the footage was exposed in the media.”

“In some cases, those charged under the Animal Welfare Act can continue to offend while on bail or offend again after a short-term ban on managing animals is lifted. We hope MPI is doing everything they can to ensure no other animals are hurt in what is likely to be a long wait for a court decision.”

The maximum fine he can receive is a $100,000 and a sentence of 5 years for animal cruelty.

“The Ministry in charge of growing and promoting New Zealand’s primary industries has a clear conflict of interest with their animal protection responsibilities, and the animals are paying for it with their lives.”

“The Government needs to urgently strip MPI of its animal welfare responsibilities and replace it with a fully resourced independent agency with the power and funding to regulate and enforce the Animal Welfare Act.”

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