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Rampant Animal Mistreatment In The Dairy Industry Warrants Inquiry

Stuff revealed yesterday that dairy industry animal welfare complaints have increased over the last four years. According to data from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), in 2017 there were 264 complaints, 258 in 2018, 332 in 2019 and last year there were 373.

Despite an increase in complaints, the number of recommended prosecutions remained about the same, with 11 in 2017, 13 in 2018, nine in 2019 and 10 last year.

SAFE CEO Debra Ashton said the Government needs to launch an independent review into the dairy industry to find out what’s really going on.

"It’s alarming that the number of prosecutions has remained the same and those penalties are at the lower end of the scale," said Ashton.

"Animal abuse is a serious criminal offence, and too often perpetrators are allowed to continue farming animals."

Last week, Waikato dairy farmer Rodney Nicol, whose neglect led to the death of 11 cows, was fined $17,500. Nicol was not banned from farming. In March, Anthony Brolly was fined $12,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5,292 following his neglect of 245 calves. Brolly is still allowed to continue farming.

"Why the rise in complaints? Why so few prosecutions? Why such paltry penalties? In order to get some clear answers to these questions the Government must appoint a Commissioner for Animals, and one of their key objectives should be a review into the dairy industry."


- Dairy farmer Rodney Nicol, whose neglect of yearling cattle led to 11 deaths was fined $17,500 last week and warned that he could be disqualified from farming if he appears on animal welfare charges again.

- Anthony Brolly was fined $12,000 and ordered to pay $5,292 vet costs in March. Brolly failed to feed, adequately treat and prevent parasites in 245 calves, and ill-treated five calves.

- In February, John William McFall, a Rolleston pig and cattle farmer was fined $3500 for failing to euthanise an extremely emaciated calf that had body sores and hundreds of maggots in its mouth.

- The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for enforcing animal welfare law on farms. Across the country, there are over 160 million farmed animals, but only 27 registered animal welfare inspectors. On its website, MPI lists its primary function as the promotion of New Zealand agriculture and exports. Because of this conflict of interest and under-resourcing, MPI’s crucial role in regulating animal welfare is treated as secondary.

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