NZ pondering live export ban

By Country News

New Zealand’s government says it is considering a ban on live cattle exports over concerns about animal welfare.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced conditional or absolute bans on the shipping of cows had been put up as options as part of a wider review into tightening rules around live animal shipping.

‘‘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,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘‘The continued export of cattle may be a risk to New Zealand’s brand.

‘‘Consumers increasingly care about where their food comes from; animal welfare standards are a growing focus of consumers around the world.’’

New Zealand exported about $28million of live cattle last year and the figure has been dropping in recent years.

That compares to total red meat exports of more than $NZ6.7billion in 2017-18.

Only one major consignment of sheep has left the country since 2008.

The matter would now be put up for consultation, Mr O’Connor said.

Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is this year implementing a raft of rule changes following a review of livestock export standards.

But the government rejected calls to phase out live exports last year, with pressure building after video emerged of sheep dying in stifling conditions on a voyage from Fremantle in Western Australia to the Middle East.