Live-for-slaughter exports to end
Proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act will see the banning of shipments of live exports for slaughter enshrined in law.
Timaru was a major hub for exporting live animals to slaughter. In 1986 the issue caused massive protests as thousands of meatworkers picketed the port in an attempt to stop a shipment of live sheep leaving Timaru.
The port periodically sends shipments of live dairy heifers to China as the country attempts to build up its dairy herd.
Banning live exports to slaughter was not going to be a major loss for sheep farmers' incomes, South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Ivon Hurst said.
Most have moved on from relying on these exports as an additional revenue source.
"Is it a loss? I don't think so, and you could ask any farmer and they would probably say the same unless they have got a vested interest in sending dead sheep over there."
The changes to the act were disclosed in a discussion paper by the Government last week. The paper outlines the Government's plan to have a national animal welfare strategy.
Changes to the act include replacing the existing welfare codes, which currently set the standards for animal welfare, with a combination of enforceable regulations and guidelines.
Primary Industries Minister David Carter said the proposals set a strategic direction for animal welfare and improve the way the Animal Welfare Act operates.
"Animal welfare matters. It matters because how we treat animals says something important about us as a society.
"It also matters for New Zealand's reputation because our trading partners and international consumers rightly expect us to maintain high standards of animal welfare."
The federation's joint animal welfare spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell said it was within farmers commercial interests to have the best animal welfare system possible.
“Farmers know full well stressed or maltreated animals do not produce well or gain condition.
"It is why we have to guard against going overboard with compliance when we know good animal welfare has strong commercial drivers," she said.
Submissions close on the discussion document at the end of September.
The Timaru Herald