18 Oct 2013

Concerns raised over animal welfare bill

1:51 pm on 18 October 2013

Two agricultural organisations have voiced their concerns about a proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill which they believe could lead to political interference by the Minister for Primary Industries.

The Meat Industry Association represents meat processors and exporters.

Chief executive Tim Ritchie told the primary production select committee on Thursday the proper body to determine animal welfare standards is the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) - and not the Minister.

He said leaving animal welfare under the supervision of NAWAC would reduce the possibility of political or ministerial interference.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand's market access general manager Ben O'Brien, says it shares similar concerns.

He says NAWAC is an an important and highly competent committee - capable of working through all sides of the animal welfare debate.

New animal welfare rules for dairy cattle proposed

NAWAC is also calling for public submissions on its proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cattle.

The changes are to do with the behavioural needs of cows kept in sheds.

Chair John Hellström, says off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle, including purpose-built housing, are becoming increasingly common in New Zealand.

He says while farmers are seeing the benefits in terms of effluent management, feed intake monitoring and winter shelter - the facilities must be designed and managed with the welfare of the animals in mind.

The Ministry for Primary Industries website has more information on making sumbmissions.