Animal welfare initiatives

A number of animal welfare initiatives, including newly updated guidelines for animal transport within New Zealand, a review of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, development of a new national strategy, plus distribution of a revised toolkit for farmers are underway.

A newly updated Transport within New Zealand Code of Animal Welfare was issued by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) in 2011, alongside a review of the code for Meat Chickens and a new Goats code, according to the Committee’s newly released 2011 annual report.

The Transport Code covers all animals transported by land, sea or air within New Zealand. It provides clarity about who is responsible for the welfare of animals at all stages of transportation and gives direction about how this must be achieved.

Committee chairman John Hellstrom, says the Code has been rapidly adopted by industry since its launch in September. “It is gratifying to see this code, like the earlier dairy, sheep and beef and pig codes being widely adopted within industry guideline.”

Other activities for the year covered in the annual report included developing advice for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Minister on aspects of the proposed revision of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Among the issues considered were the future roles of the committee, the effectiveness of Codes of Welfare and alternatives, the welfare of wildlife and methods for increasing the transparency of NAWAC’s process and activities.

NAWAC is an independent advisory committee to the Minister for Primary Industries. It was established under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to provide advice to Ministers on matters relating to the welfare of animals in New Zealand and to develop codes of welfare.

A copy of the new Code can be downloaded from MPI’s website, where a hard copy can also be ordered.

New national strategy

Alongside the review of the Act, MPI is also currently working on the development of a national strategy for animal welfare, which will set the future direction of animal welfare in New Zealand and outline the Government’s key priorities over the next few years, according to MPI’s newsletter Welfare Pulse. Input has been obtained from key stakeholders like vets, animal industries, animal advocacy groups and users of animals in research and teaching.

The final strategy and legislative proposals will be presented to the Minister for Primary Industries in late 2012 or early 2013. It is intended that an amendment Bill be introduced to the House during the first half of next year.

Revision of Animal Welfare Toolkit

This activity adds to the newly re-launched Animal Welfare Toolkit for farmers. This was released at the Federated Farmers conference recently and is now being distributed to farmers nationally. Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd, Deer Industry New Zealand, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand Veterinary Association were among the organisations working on the revision with MPI. A copy can be downloaded here (search ‘Animal Welfare Toolkit’).

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