Farmers demand beefing up of rustling laws

Last updated 12:40 30/06/2014
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Farmers are demanding tougher penalties for livestock rustling with costs reaching an estimated $120 million a year and made worse after more than 200 sheep were shot at a North Otago farm in recent weeks.

Out of despair will hopefully come some good for the couple recovering from the losses with Federated Farmers organising a fundraiser for them.

In the last few weeks a Waikato lifestyle farmer was also raided, losing good breeding ewes.

Federated Farmers rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said political parties were being asked to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft.

"We've got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching," Milne said.

"Based on our experience to date they are not."

Political parties needed to take rustling seriously because in many instances weapons were being used and the level of violence in some cases was appalling. The Otago shootings were a "despicable" act, she said.

Farmers are meanwhile being urged to report rustling or suspicious behaviour anonymously to the Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 or through online reporting such as Stop Stock Theft.

The only party to release a rustling policy proposal so far is ACT, which wants to have legislation introducing the confiscation of vehicles and equipment used in offences, consistent with rules under the Fisheries Act for illegal seafood catches.

Maximum jail terms are proposed to be increased from three months to two years for stock valued up to $500, from one year to three years for stock valued from $500 to $1000 and to 10 years for stock valued at more than $1000 with longer terms for aggravated stock theft.

North Otago farmer Peter Stackhouse found a paddock littered with dead and injured sheep at his farm inland from Oamaru this month.

A fundraiser is being organised to assist the farming family with farmers to donate ewes or lambs at the Waiareka saleyards in North Otago on July 7.

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