New Zealand considering ban on live exports to 'protect farming brand'

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The New Zealand Government is considering banning live exports which are worth over $30 million to its economy in order to protect its farming brand.

Minister for Agriculture Damien O’ Connor said that the government is considering a conditional ban on live exports as part of a review of its trade standards.

"The continued export of cattle may be a risk to New Zealand's brand. The time has come to rethink this area and consider whether it's something that fits within our values as a country," he said.

"When animals leave New Zealand we set conditions that are considered world-class by veterinarians. But there have been incidents over the last few years that highlight the fact that once animals leave New Zealand we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing when they reach their destination.

He added that consumers increasingly care about where their food comes from and that animal welfare standards are a growing focus of consumers around the world.

"We need to ensure we have the highest level of animal welfare standards. Our economic wellbeing depends on it."

After discussing this with Cabinet colleagues he will now take an options paper for cross-party consultation. The matter will then go to the Cabinet economic development committee for consideration in late July.

"The options presented in the review will range from tightening up the existing standards to absolute or conditional prohibition on some or all parts of this trade.

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"It's a complex area and there are a number of factors Cabinet needs to consider, including public expectation, international trade commitments and the impacts on rural New Zealand

This comes as the Compassion in World Farming group is due to launch a protest against Irish live exports outside the Dail this afternoon.

Speaking ahead of the protest spokesperson for the group Caroline Rowley stated:

“In reality it is only the handful of exporting companies that are benefitting from this and live export only accounts for a small percentage of the agri-beef export industry.

“Beef export is worth far more to the economy that live export. Plus if the animals were slaughtered in Ireland our economy would benefit from all the by-products.”

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