More whistle-blowers emerge as animal cruelty footage released

After disturbing footage of animal abuse on a Northland dairy farm was released yesterday, we are demanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) be stripped of its animal welfare responsibilities and an independent Animal Welfare Ministry be set up.

“The Ministry needs to explain why they failed to act when they had specific information, a year ago, about abuse taking place,” says SAFE spokesperson Hans Kriek. “Instead they allowed this farmer to continue beating his cows.”

Since Newsroom broke the story, both SAFE and Farmwatch have received messages from whistle-blowers, detailing new cases of cruelty being inflicted on dairy cows. 

Some of the incidents described are even more brutal than the beatings exposed at the Northland farm. Animal abuse appears to be significantly more common than many farmers are willing to admit. There is also a culture of silence in many rural communities, with people scared to report cruelty they’ve witnessed for fear of reprisals.

“The system is broken. MPI is tasked with monitoring animal welfare, but this strongly conflicts with its role of promoting the animal agriculture industry. A fox can’t guard the hen house. MPI has shown repeatedly that they cannot be trusted to uncover animal abuse or even enforce the law.”

For the last five years, Farmwatch and SAFE have been doing the job that MPI hasn’t – investigating conditions on New Zealand farms.

We have directed people to MPI to report cases where farmed animals are in danger. The fact that witnesses are coming back to us, tells a damning story of MPI's ability to follow up complaints.

We are calling for a fully resourced, independent Ministry for Animal Welfare and for CCTV cameras to be placed in all dairy sheds and slaughterhouses.

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29 June 2018