6 Dec 2015

Dairy ad 'putting the boot in'

5:10 pm on 6 December 2015

An advertisement condemning New Zealand's dairy industry for its treatment of calves has been run in Britain's The Guardian newspaper.

Animal welfare organisation Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) arranged the advertisement, which depicts a bloodied calf inside a glass of milk with the caption "New Zealand dairy contaminated with cruelty".

It also poses the question, "Are you consuming New Zealand dairy cruelty?"

SAFE and lobby group Farmwatch last month released footage of calves left in roadside crates, being thrown onto trucks and abused at a slaughterhouse in Waikato.

The purpose of the advertisement, published in the Saturday edition of the newspaper at a cost of over $10,000, was to send a message that more must be done to prevent animal cruelty, SAFE executive director Hans Kriek said.

"It's really important that we give people who consume our products the opportunity to have their say.

"We also knew that international pressure would be sufficient reason for the industry to take action and stamp out the cruelty."

Industry groups 'disappointed'

Federated Farmers said in a statement it was disappointed SAFE had drawn international attention to "what is only a very small number of individuals from within the New Zealand dairy industry and associated industries".

It said the ad came just days after the Ministry for Primary Industries and seven industry bodies had announced a joint effort to ensure New Zealand's high standard of animal welfare codes was followed by everyone in the industry.

Most people understood bobby calves were a reality of dairy farming, it said.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Andrew Hoggard said SAFE had "put the boot in" during a tough year.

"For them to go ahead and just put the boot in to all the dairy industry - really frustrating, because 99 percent of the farmers out there do a bloody good job," he said.

"It's a tough damn year for us, and we definitely did not need this."

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the ad was an act of bad faith and did not help anyone.

"We've been working certainly this week with our partners, other industries, also with government, to work out how do we fix these issues," he said.

"We're really disappointed that SAFE have chosen to act in this way. It's an act of bad faith towards the dairy industry, and also to New Zealand."

The advertisement was a one-off, Mr Kriek said.

"There's a debate now in New Zealand about what it takes to get milk - it means that calves die."

SAFE's video footage can be watched here.

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