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Live export review ignores 99% of exported farmed animals

The Government’s review of the live export trade ignores 99% of exported farmed animals.

A Cabinet paper from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s office on the then proposed review of the live export trade was released last week. The paper proposes five options, which include the Minister’s preferred option of a conditional ban, and a complete prohibition of the trade. The paper shows the scope of the review will only include the export of cows, deer, sheep and goats for breeding.

Campaigns Officer Mona Oliver says the review excludes the majority of farmed animals that are exported every year.

"This review will ignore 99% of the animals that suffer in the live export industry," says Miss Oliver.

"Farmed animals such as day-old chicks are exported in the millions every year. They are then raised in countries with lower animal welfare standards than New Zealand and suffer just like cows and sheep. Yet they’re exempt from this review, which Minister O’Connor ordered after evidence emerged of New Zealand-sourced animals suffering in far-flung countries.

The Agriculture Minister announced the review in June, following an ABC News exposé that showed New Zealand and Australian cows suffering in Sri Lanka. Ten per cent of those cows died, and many more are now suffering after cows from both countries were exported to Sri Lanka by Australian live export corporation Wellard Limited.

"The reality is that once we export animals from New Zealand, we have no control over their welfare in their destination country. Damien O’Connor knows this."

"He states in his Cabinet paper that if we continue the live export trade, we cannot control the risks to the welfare of animals after they arrive at their destination. These same risks apply to all exported farmed animals yet the Government isn’t giving the welfare of other live export animals such as day-old chicks a second thought"

"We’ve already completely banned the live export of cows, sheep, goats and deer for slaughter, so we know we can act to protect the welfare of New Zealand animals. The Minister must close the loopholes and completely prohibit the live export trade of all farmed animals."

SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.

We're working towards a world where animals are understood and respected in such a way that they are no longer exploited, abused or made to suffer.

The Cabinet paper proposed five options:

1.‘Imposition of a total ban on the export of livestock;’

2.‘Imposition of a conditional probation on the export of livestock;’

3.‘Collaborative programmes to build capacity and capability at the destinations and/or encourage alternative exports;’

4.‘Continuous improvement under current regulatory settings; and’

5.‘Targeted interventions, development of new operational policy, and continued improvement.’

Key points about the risk to animals in their destination country:

Section 23: ‘However, New Zealand cannot control animal welfare outcomes once livestock have departed our jurisdiction. If we continue this trade, we cannot control all the risks to the welfare of animals being exported.’

Section 65.2: ‘Note that once livestock has departed New Zealand, there is little ability to influence the treatment of animals at their final destinations.’

Notes for editor:

- SAFE’s petition to ban live export.

- Footage of live export, including from New Zealand.

- In April, ABC News exposed the plight of hundreds of New Zealand- and Australian-supplied cows found to be diseased, sick, and dying in Sri Lanka. Live-export corporation Wellard Ltd. shipped 5,000 New Zealand and Australian cows in a deal with the Sri Lankan Government to set up dairy farms.

- ABC News exposé of Sri Lankan Dairy Scheme.

- SAFE edit of Sri Lankan Dairy Scheme exposé.

- High-resolution images from Sri Lankan Dairy Scheme exposé.

- The live export of cattle, sheep, goats, and deer for slaughter was banned in 2003. However, it is still legal to export these animals for breeding purposes.

- Animals exported for breeding purposes will eventually be slaughtered, potentially by means that are too cruel to be legal in New Zealand.


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