Input sought on animal welfare proposals

Meat exporters, processors and producers have an opportunity to give their input, alongside other interested parties, to the Government’s proposed changes to New Zealand’s animal welfare system.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the proposals set a strategic direction for animal welfare and improve the way the current Animal Welfare Act 1999 operates.

“Animal welfare matters. It matters because how we treat animals says something important about us as a society. It also matters for New Zealand’s reputation because our trading partners and international consumers rightly expect us to maintain high standards of animal welfare.”

The proposed national strategy, the first of its kind, will canvass the views of stakeholders with animal welfare interests, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and set a vision for New Zealand’s animal welfare system into the future, the Minister says.

“The proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act will clarify the way it operates and make it easier to enforce.”

Radical change is not proposed, as the suggested values, outcomes and approaches are already implicit in the system, neither is it seeking to lift standards, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ discussion paper says. A key proposal is that codes of welfare, which currently set the standards for animal welfare, are replaced with a combination of regulations and guidelines. Regulations will be directly enforceable in law. Guidelines will provide information and advice but will have no legal effect.

Delivering the strategy will require action from the meat industry in terms of implementing industry schemes to improve welfare; recognising and building stockmanship skills, educating members about best practice and meeting standards, measuring animal welfare performance and engaging with the public and consumers. It also encourages continuing collaboration in setting standards, co-investing in research, contingency planning and the existing joint Government/industry initiative to improve animal welfare compliance.Many of these actions are already in place.

The closing date for submissions is 28 September 2012. Read more about how to make a submission and to read the discussion paper.

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