SAFE urges Minister to appoint non industry experts
SAFE urges Agriculture Minister to appoint non industry experts on winter grazing taskforce
Animal rights organisation SAFE is urging the Government to include experts and advocates from outside the agriculture industry on its newly announced winter crop grazing taskforce.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s taskforce was announced last week following intense public scrutiny over cruel winter crop grazing practices. Images and drone footage from Otago and Southland have highlighted the issue, showing cows standing in knee deep mud.
SAFE Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says it is promising to see the Government respond, but stresses that the taskforce needs to have both the power and the motivation to make meaningful change for animals.
"Winter grazing practices are an urgent animal welfare, public health and environmental concern. New Zealanders have seen the terrible conditions many cows are forced into and changes need to be made," says Ms Macdonald.
"It’s crucial this taskforce isn’t stacked with industry insiders who have a conflict of interest. Independent veterinarians, environmental and animal welfare experts must also be included."
"Under the Animal Welfare Act, the industry must provide animals with adequate shelter. Many of the winter crop grazing practices that we’ve seen emerge in recent weeks could be in breach of the Act."
"Animal welfare and environmental protection must be put ahead of industry profit. We have written to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with our concerns and urge him to include experts and advocates from outside of the agriculture industry, who can effectively respond to these appalling wintering practices."
Environment activist Angus Robson launched the campaign on winter cropping two weeks ago. His campaign has since brought winter cropping to national attention. Last week, runoff from a Southland wintering paddock forced a nearby kindergarten to close after it washed onto the school property.
"Not only are cows being forced to spend their winter standing in knee deep mud, but now runoff from a nearby wintering field has forced a Southland kindergarten to close."
"The practice of winter cropping where cows are confined to small strips of land needs to end. The wellbeing of animals, our environment and people depends on it."