NEW ZEALAND’S agriculture minister Damien O’Connor says the country is considering a conditional ban on the live export of cattle as one of several options being examined as part of a review of the country’s trade in live animals.
Mr O’Connor updated NZ Cabinet yesterday about a review of the trade and said he will present more in-depth work and options soon.
New Zealand exported 14,459 cattle worth about $30 million to China in 2018, down from over 40,000 cattle in 2016.
Mr O’Connor said the continued export of cattle “may be a risk to New Zealand’s brand”.
“The time has come to rethink this area and consider whether it’s something that fits within our values as a country,” he said.
“When animals leave New Zealand we set conditions that are considered world-class by veterinarians.
“But there have been incidents over the last few years that highlight the fact that once animals leave New Zealand we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing when they reach their destination.
“That’s something that’s not acceptable to me and I know it’s not acceptable to a large number of New Zealanders.
“Consumers increasingly care about where their food comes from, animal welfare standards are a growing focus of consumers around the world. We need to ensure we have the highest level of animal welfare standards. Our economic wellbeing depends on it.”
“Yesterday I discussed it with my Cabinet colleagues and soon I will take an options paper to them for cross-party consultation. The matter will then go to the Cabinet Economic Development Committee for consideration in late July.
“The options presented in the review will range from tightening up the existing standards to absolute or conditional prohibition on some or all parts of this trade.
“It’s a complex area and there are a number of factors Cabinet needs to consider, including public expectation, international trade commitments and the impacts on rural New Zealand. Live exports are a source of income to rural communities, almost $30 million in cattle exports alone last year – but has been dropping in recent years.
“Now is the time for us to demonstrate New Zealand’s leadership and commitment to upholding the highest standards of animal welfare”.