Animal welfare, high priority for Māori farm

By Mere McLean

A complaint over animal welfare sent in to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in September has inspired a Māori Trust farm near Rotorua to re-think how they approach animal welfare on their farm.

"SAFE For Animals" is calling for a major overhaul of the Ministry in how they deal with animal welfare in New Zealand.

Jason Perry has been a farmer since his teens and now manages the Parekarangi Māori Farm near Rotorua. He says animal welfare is a high priority on his farm but sometimes farmers are judged for it.

According to Mr Perry, “They sort of look at the dairy farmers and blame us for a lot of stuff is out of our hands completely once it leaves the farm and the way they deal with things.”

In September, SAFE For Animals sent a complaint to the Ministry of Primary Industries regarding the brutal treatment of bobby calves and exposed it through footage they obtained.

Hans Kriek (SAFE For Animals) says, ‘We want MIP to separate animal welfare from the agriculture portfolio because at the moment the Ministry for  Primary industries are there to promo agriculture and that means animal welfare doesn't get a look in really.”

In a statement Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy said that investigations are underway regarding the footage. Cruelty to animals, especially very young is not acceptable.

Hans Kriek (SAFE For Animals) says, “What we want now to see is steps put in place to prevent this happening in the future.  There needs to be much more clear protocol on how they respond to complaints like that and also then how they respond back.”

But for farmers like Jason Perry, animal welfare should be high on any farmers' priority list. He says, “It's our Kiwi way that we have always taken care of things to treat animals fairly.”

In New Zealand, animals and their products generate over $20 bill each year, which is why groups like SAFE for animals are calling for an independent animal welfare department with the hope of having farmers like Jason Perry as advisors.

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