The recent news that NZ’s largest dairy farmer allowed calves to dehydrate and starve to death is appalling, but there are much larger issues here than this just being one rogue farm.
The fact is, MAF animal welfare is a joke. They have only five animal welfare inspectors covering the entire country, so it’s really no surprise that they don’t have the resources to prosecute any but the most severe cases. Getting MAF to even inspect a farm is often impossible.
Minister of Agriculture David Carter is well aware of the problems. He spent considerable effort in the last parliamentary term rightly digging into the previous Minister over the issue.
Does the Minister think it acceptable that there are only five Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry animal welfare investigators across New Zealand dealing with 50 million head of livestock, which is one officer for every 10 million animals; if so, why?
Does the Minister agree with the comment of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry investigations manager, Greg Reid, that animal welfare resources in New Zealand are ‘chaotic’ and ‘running from bushfire to bushfire’; if so, what is the Minister going to do to fix that problem?
David Carter is now the Minister responsible, and perhaps he should be asking himself his own questions – what is he willing to do about it?
As an aside, while this Crafar farms story is clearly unusual and extreme (it can’t be profitable to starve and dehydrate your herd), there are other major animal welfare issues widespread in dairy farming. For example, here’s some pictures friends of mine took in the Waikato last year. It is standard practice for calves to have their horns removed with bolt cutters and no anesthetic.