Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.
According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.
Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).
Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand.
The research supports the industry’s call for a Gold Standard of care for live animal exports in NZ, says Mr Willis
“Two years ago our industry banded together to propose that the Government introduce much higher standards of care for the animals exported from New Zealand. We set out a clear and evidence-based 12-point regulatory plan to Minister O’Connor that would further improve and modernise the live animal export system.
“We did not receive any response.
“The Government has failed to consult in good faith with industry or understand the views of the New Zealand public. The end result will be legislation that is detrimental to the livelihood of farmers and New Zealand’s economy, and a missed opportunity to lift the standards of live animal exports globally.”
The research shows 54% of respondents agree that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand (only 16% disagree and 31% are neutral) and 60% believe that it makes an important economic contribution to New Zealand.
In a separate piece of research, by TDB Advisory, costs and benefits of the ban were assessed, arriving at an overall net cost on national wellbeing under the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework.
The results conclude that a complete ban:
• reduces NZ GDP by $474m pa
• reduces national financial wellbeing (medium/long-term) by~$320m pa ($150 per household)
• estimates a net cost to farmers (who would otherwise have continued exporting livestock) to be around $49,000 to $116,000 per farm pa.
• increases bobby calves slaughtered – a further 150,000 pa
• reduces carbon emissions by just 0.7
“The TDB Advisory analysis paints a clear picture of a ban with few quantifiable benefits and significant financial costs. During a cost-of-living crisis, enforcing decisions that will cause economic hardship, when viable alternatives that protect the welfare of animals have been proposed, suggests this Government does not understand or respect New Zealand farmers,” says Willis.
“We will continue to advocate for a Gold Standard framework that addresses New Zealanders’ desire for certainty about animal welfare standards in the live animal export industry, and enhanced regulation that would hold participants to account.”
LENZ believes it is possible to have both high and globally leading standards of animal welfare, and excellent export outcomes.
“We understand that animals are sentient beings. We understand when our animals are distressed, unhappy or in an unfit state as a result of the conditions they are exported in, and we have the science to back this up. The Gold Standard would hold the industry to highest standards globally through stringent regulation and performance-based exporter registration schemes meaning animals can be exported safely by sea.
“The mistreatment of animals has no place in our industry, and the wellbeing of the animals we export is our top priority,” says Willis.
About the Gold Standard proposed by industry
• The Gold Standard is a programme to provide assurance that all animals are cared for throughout the export process and beyond, and importantly to hold operators accountable
• Developed in 2020, the Gold Standard is an export regulation framework to further improve and modernise the export system. If adopted, these improvements would go further than the additional requirements introduced by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in October 2020; and exceed current international best practice
• The Gold Standard is a global-best practice system that is performance-based, with all potential exporters licenced by the MPI. Key principles proposed are to ensure that the system has real “teeth” so that there are enforceable penalties for breaches of performance standards, and no perverse incentives for poor performers: cutting corners would have to lead to real, not perfunctory, consequences for the system to be effective.
• Good physical and mental health in animals, including freedom from stress and good nutrition, are not only an ethical priority, but are also inextricably linked to fertility and positive business performance. There is a strong business case to maintain the highest standards of animal wellbeing.
• The Gold Standard has been championed by industry to Government, but ignored, despite recommendations from MPI and MFAT.
* Voconiq surveyed 2,100 New Zealanders’ perceptions and understanding of the live animal export industry. It sought to understand the overall acceptance and rejection of the industry, levels of trust and whether respondents’ opinions change when learning about the concept of the Gold Standard and summary of conditions.
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