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Ministry lies about animal abuse.

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, December 5th, 2014 - 97 comments
Categories: activism, farming, food - Tags: , , , ,

Earlier this year Farmwatch investigated pig farming in New Zealand. We filmed horrific conditions and animal cruelty on several farms in Auckland and Christchurch. On one farm workers kicked and stomped on piglets. They beat a sow to death with a sledgehammer. It took more than an hour to kill her.

Sunday, TVNZ’s weekend current affairs show, ran two episodes with our footage. It resulted in public outcry and nationwide marches against factory farming. After this the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) contacted Farmwatch. They were eager to get a copy of our evidence and interview us about what we found. Publicly, the ministry and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, made it sound like they would prosecute the farms for the animal abuse we’d uncovered.

I was sceptical. I’ve been documenting appalling farm conditions for years. MPI have never been interested in our footage before. Six months later the ministry hasn’t prosecuted the farms. Even worse, MPI have effectively endorsed the cruel practices we uncovered, saying they could find no evidence of unnecessary cruelty.

Anything Nathan Guy and MPI say about cruelty on farms should be seen by the public for what it is: hot air. Not only do I believe they have been misleading the public on this I have proof they have been lying in order to attempt to discredit me.

The first Sunday expose dealt with a Christchurch farm Farmwatch had already investigated. Since our earlier investigation It was since cleared by MPI and the pork industry . Nathan Guy refused to talk to Sunday about this farm, when confronted whilst at another event Nathan Guy wouldn’t condemn the cruelty we documented. Instead he lashed out at Farmwatch saying:

“I’m disappointed that this information hasn’t gone to MPI straight away. As soon as I became aware of the property I said to MPI you need to go and inspect the property.”

The second Sunday expose used footage from a hidden camera we placed on the Auckland pig farm.

The footage showed workers kicking and stomping on piglets and beating the sow to death. For the second time, officials made it sound like a prosecution was likely. MPI director of compliance, Dean Baigent, said the footage was under investigation.

“[W]e’ve been out to the property in question and interviewed some of the key players under the Bills of Rights interview”.

Despite my concern about attempts to discredit us, another Farmwatch member and I agreed to sit down with MPI investigators to go through our footage.
In my first meeting I discussed the Christchurch footage. The investigator was thorough and I have a high degree of respect for his professionalism. But he quickly came to the conclusion that while the footage was disturbing, there was little which he could prosecute.

I wasn’t surprised in the slightest.
There is a reason people refer to factory farming as “legalised cruelty”. The industry basically wrote the pig farming “Codes of Welfare”. It allows farmers to treat pigs in ways which would result in a prison sentence if you did the same thing to your pet.

Several months after this investigation, MPI have released their findings.

“The Christchurch footage showed a rat infestation, dead piglets and a dead pig. There was no evidence of that when compliance officers investigated.

“Two independent vets viewed all the footage made available by the complainants and were unable to conclude that the rats had caused harm to the pigs, or establish how the adult pig and the piglets had died.

The Ministry for Primary Industries have also come out and decided not to press charges against the workers filmed deliberately abusing animals.
The footage of their cruelty is the most disturbing material I’ve ever seen from New Zealand. It helped spark nationwide protests against factory farming
MPI also commented on this footage saying.

“Two independent vets viewed the footage. They were unable to conclude that the pigs suffered unnecessary pain or distress or ill treatment. As a result the footage failed to provide enough evidence for a prosecution.”

This statement is bizarre. The footage shows workers hitting, kicking and beating animals. If this isn’t unnecessary pain or distress, then I have no idea what would be.

Not content to justify beating animals, they have accused me of refusing to co-operate and therefore being a barrier to any successful prosecution:

“The person who took the footage declined to provide a statement for continuity of evidence.”

My trust in MPI is so low I thought they might lie about the meeting. So I recorded our meeting. What follows is a small section of the interview:

MPI Inspector 1: What you want to confirm, you took all the footage at ******* farm, you placed and retrieved the cameras and that you hold further footage.
John Darroch: Yes.
MPI Inspector 1: Anything else that you want to say.
John Darroch: And that I am more than happy to appear in court regarding the footage.
MPI Inspector 1: Yeah, yeah.
John Darroch: And it’s authenticity.
MPI Inspector 1: Yeah.
MPI Inspector 2: This is all we really wanted to cover. That’s all.
MPI Inspector 1: What’s going to happen to this is that I’m not going to do a witness statement today, this will go into a jobsheet I will then probably draft a witness statement and send that to you and until you sign that witness statement it’s not a legal document. I will then say look there’s your witness statement if you’re happy with it sign it, if not send it back to me.
John Darroch: Yeah.
MPI Inspector 1: I think that’s pretty much (it?). Are you happy to give your full name address and details?
John Darroch: [Provides name, address and occupation].

This shows MPI are lying about this meeting. They know the public won’t be happy with their inaction and are looking for excuses.

Despite this, I will continue to co-operate with MPI in the future. I would like to stress that the law does nothing to protect animals on factory farms. It is only by outlawing factory farming that we will see an end to this legalised cruelty. Before the election Labour and the Greens agreed to phase out all factory farming – with Labour committing to have legislation in place by 2017. The cruelty we find on factory farms is therefore the responsibility of the National party. Nathan Guy must be held to account for the inaction of his ministry, and the failure of the government to end factory farming.

by John Darroch
Farmwatch New Zealand

97 comments on “Ministry lies about animal abuse. ”

  1. lprent 1

    Did you ever see a witness statement? Did the people from the MPI ever come back to you at all?

    Nathan Guy really does seem like a pillock.

    • Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 1.1

      Not only does he seem like a pillock, there has been enforcement failure and misrepresentation (lies!) by a government department under his watch and as the minister responsible for MPI, the buck stops with him.

    • jdarroch 1.2

      Nope they never got in contact with me after that. I had the feeling from the start that tje investigation was a sham.

  2. Good work John and Farmwatch – ending the legalised cruelty of factory farming is a goal I support.

    • Chooky 2.1

      +100…they should all be free -range, happy and well treated

      • Puckish Rogue 2.1.1

        I only ever buy free range, more expensive but its better for you physically and morally

        • batweka 2.1.1.1

          unfortunately free range is a pretty loose term in NZ and in practice doesn’t always match what people who are buying food are thinking. Eggs are the obvious one, but I think it applies across the board – do research and check out specific brands if you want to be sure.

          • lprent 2.1.1.1.1

            That is what I do.

          • Puckish Rogue 2.1.1.1.2

            I do as I’m not keen on being ripped off also battery chicken is fattier than free range chicken simply because of the lack of movement so yeah I make sure i’m getting what i paid for

        • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1.2

          “.. better for you physically and morally”

          So its all Ok if they are treated reasonably in order to be killed so that you feel good about it anyway

          You could just say its a welfare issue for the pigs and forget about being high and mighty

          • Puckish Rogue 2.1.1.2.1

            Animals should be treated humanely and yes its a physical issue as well. When an animal is put under stress it produces adrenaline, adrenaline causes the muscles to tighten which of course makes the meat tougher.

            Animals that don’t get enough exercise are fatter than animals that do, a a battery farmed chicken is more fatty then a free-range chicken so if you want to eat more healthy then you’d be better off getting free range

            However I don’t and have never condoned cruelty towards animals however killing an animal is not cruel if the killing is quick and painless

            • red blooded 2.1.1.2.1.1

              “killing an animal is not cruel if the killing is quick and painless”

              Don’t lie to yourself, Rogue. Of course killing is cruel – to claim otherwise is simply a salve to your conscience. Don’t try to tell yourself that the animals being slaughtered don’t suffer or don’t have any sense of what’s about to happen to them (and even if they didn’t, to kill an animal is to rob it of everything that makes up its being – the ultimate loss). And what makes this cruel, as opposed to unfortunate? The fact that you have no need to participate in and crete a demand for this cruelty. People (unlike the animals) have a choice about how we feed ourselves and we don’t need to choose to see other animals as fodder.

              Well done, John – stay on the case. This kind of excess is inevitable when we see animals as stock units and treat them as such.

      • Much better to just stop eating animals and their products altogether to be honest if you care about their welfare. If demand starts going down for these products there will be less incentive to cram animals in to such conditions.

  3. adam 3

    Good Job John, keep up the hard work. This is a sickening practice.

    At the very least, we should ask ourselves – if they are willing to do this it animals, what will the be willing to do to people?

    • + 1 That is the question I get to too and the answer isn’t pretty.

      • phillip ure 3.1.1

        we will never stop treating human-beings like animals..

        ..until we stop treating animals like animals…

        • Puckish Rogue 3.1.1.1

          Tasty, tasty animals…

          • felix 3.1.1.1.1

            That you think that’s an appropriate comment on a thread about people brutalising animals says a lot about you.

            • Puckish Rogue 3.1.1.1.1.1

              As long as animals are treated well and killed quickly and painlessly (which is one of the reasons I buy free-range and about to buy homekill) I’m all good with it

              • CATMAN

                Yeah but you’re a creepy pr guy who tells lies for money, and just the other day you argued that reality is anything you say it is.

                So it doesn’t matter what you claim to think about this or anything else.

                • The goat

                  [deleted]

                  [lprent: banned for waving your teeny dick around as if you were a big troll ]

              • But “in reality” most people who buy meat do not ensure either of those things, and in the practicalities of daily life very few people end up having anything to do with “happy meat”. It’s largely a myth and many people who do say they support “happy meat” still end up buying many animal products that support cruel farming methods.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    This is awful stuff, and it’s hard to shake the suspicion that political donations may be involved.

    • lprent 4.1

      It does rather doesn’t it. However much the same kinds of things were happening under the last Labour government as well.

      The whole of what is now the Ministry of Primary Industries seems to be designed to impede, prevent or delay the introduction of practices across a wide range of extraction industries from farming to mining. It is pretty damn stupid because what they wind up doing is delivering an inferior product rather than working up the value chain, pissing off activists (who like everyone display their opinion on the network), and therefore getting a bad reputation for their products both here and offshore.

      I simply don’t eat general chicken or pigs these days because of the videos of what are probably the extreme bad cases. But I can’t be sure that those extreme disease laden and abused animals are winding up in my food supply.

      Why? Because the MPI are completely useless at doing their job, which is developing these industries and protecting the consumers from bad farmers and processing plants. Either to force bad practitioners to improve or to drive them out of these industries.

      I will eat these meats when I am sure that they have been raised and slaughtered in a way that isn’t likely to raise my health risks.

      It is a short-sighted approach to industry development because we and the farmers get more long-term gains by being a premium food source rather than a bottom of the market one that the MPI appears to be determined to keep such industries in.

      In farming, the MPI seems orientated towards the protection of the worst of the farmers and processing plants.

      • Clemgeopin 4.1.1

        It would be helpful for all of us who are concerned about animal welfare, and also to teach the cruel greedy crooks a lesson they will care about,, to put down here a list of the names of good ethical producers and products.

        If any of you know, please list them here for our as well as their benefit.

        • Manuka AOR 4.1.1.1

          @ Clem: “please list them here”

          Best/ cheapest way is usually to visit your local farmers market and ask around.

          Online stuff can be good, but it costs:
          http://ethicalshopper.co.nz/
          http://www.thecrueltyfreeshop.co.nz/

          • Clemgeopin 4.1.1.1.1

            Thanks. I had a look. Yes, way,way over priced!

            Example in one of those links:
            Organic Raw Food Bars, $3.20/50 g=$64/kg! Almost gave me a heart attack!

            • Manuka AOR 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Clem: “way, way over priced!

              True! I think Bin Inn are good for basics. For fresh produce check out the Farmers Markets around NZ: http://www.organicexplorer.co.nz/Events/Farmers+Market+locations+throughout+New+Zealand.html
              ” Vendors may only sell what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves from within a defined local area. ” There are several in the cities. Small local markets are good too.

              • Clemgeopin

                Thanks for the link.
                On another issue:
                While we have an abundance of meat, fish and dairy products, I don’t understand the huge prices for these here in New Zealand while these NZ products are sold cheaper in foreign countries! Buggers are ripping us off, the locals, here. Greedy capitalist free market bastards!

                • Manuka AOR

                  Totally agree Clem.

                  And with the many ill-nourished Kiwi kids, that is a crime. The GST needs to be removed ASAP from all NZ grown primary produce, for starters. Meanwhile, for concerned individuals it’s all the more reason to get out of the $$$ loop and go straight to our own local growers and producers.

          • red blooded 4.1.1.1.2

            No, the best way is to stop eating animals.

            • batweka 4.1.1.1.2.1

              which leaves animal welfare in the hands of people who don’t give a shit.

              • Manuka AOR

                “people who don’t give a shit.”

                Generally, small farms and local growers and suppliers do care for their animals. And their own communities help regulate this by simple word of mouth. With the big commercial factory farms it’s a whole other story.

                • batweka

                  Yes, which is why people with ethics stopping eating meat doesn’t solve the problem. The small growers, suppliers etc are dependent on the people who buy that way and that usually is about ethics or food quality. If the people who make ethical decisions currently stopped eating meat, dairy etc, then those smaller, more ethical supply lines would fail and we’d be left with industrial agriculture and the animals being raised by those bastards.

                  • Manuka AOR

                    Okay, now I am wondering about foreign owned industrial ag/ farms in NZ, and whether there are limits or constraints on the extent we (NZ) can regulate and inspect the conditions on those farms. Or whether we could be sued for costs/ losses resulting from our own national regulations. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1411/S00187/china-fta-allows-investors-to-sue-over-domestic-law.htm

                    • batweka

                      Yep. After AGW sovereignty is probably our biggest issue. Industrial farming will collapse in time, and it it weren’t for AGW the land bases in NZ would probably recover. But if we give up sovereignty then we will continue to be stripped mined for everything the greedy bastards can get as well as lose our options when the shit does hit the fan.

                  • Actually, it’s really important that if you haven’t actually visited the farm involved and seen the practices they use, that you do not buy products originating from that farm. People who buy their animal products from places they have personally visited and seen to have humane(r) practices are fine, when they’re actually being genuine about it.

                    But everyone else should stop buying animal products until they know exactly what it is they’re consuming, not just for ethical reasons, but for their own health, to combat global warming, to increase the amount of food available for humans, to decrease bykill, to save your own money, and a lot of other reasons that basically add up to “there’s no way to eat meat or consume animal products that is completely OK.”

                    If you’ve got your hands on some genuine “Happy Meat”, that’s fine. You’re already doing so much better than most consumers that I doubt many people would take issue with you. But you’re still not going to be as well off as someone who simply doesn’t consume any animal products at all.

                    • batweka

                      Some of the organic retailers take the time to check out their suppliers thoroughly. Most people aren’t going to be in a position to visit the producer of all animal products they eat.

                      “But you’re still not going to be as well off as someone who simply doesn’t consume any animal products at all.”

                      Being vegan is not sustainable in health terms for many people, so what you are suggesting is that people compromise their health for ethical reasons. That in itself might be ok, except that there is no one size fits all in terms of sustainable food production.

                      Vegan diets are currently not sustainable ecologically or in terms of AGW (ie they’re on par with many other diet choices). Most vegans I’ve known in NZ are not eating locally produced food grown outside of agribusiness. Most are eating Monsanto soy/grains that are grown with huge detriment to the enviroment, plus the food miles.

                      The people I know who eat the most ethically are those that grow as much food as they can themselves and then source as much of the rest as locally as they can. The amount of meat/dairy they eat is less of an issue, although many don’t eat a lot.

                      I would say the best ethical move people can make is to eat happy animals products, eat less of them where that makes sense to (no point in swapping locally raised pastuered fed lamb for Monsanto soy imported from China), and to eat the whole animal (not just the meat bits).

                      I really wish people would think this through. If everyone went vegan now we would just swap one set of problems for another. Veganism isn’t inherently more ethical than other ethical ways of eating.

                    • @ batweka..

                      ..lies..piled upon lies..piled upon lives..

                      ..with yr last ‘ethical’-claim laugh-out-loud..

                      ..(links that refute yr lies..)

                      http://whoar.co.nz/?s=vegan

                      ..and do you kill yr own ‘happy-meat’..?

                      ..do you get to see how ‘happy’ they are to be eaten by you..?

                      ..or wd u rather someone else got to share that ‘happiness’ with those animals..?

                    • batweka

                      linkwhoring phil?

                      I’ve followed links to your site in the past, that you cite as evidence for your claims, but really they’re just posts about what you believe. There is no evidence.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      …upon lies…

                      Nope, Phil, it took me less than a minute to find material supporting Weka’s assertion about land use and diet and I was looking for something to refute it.

                      On the other hand, the supportive material comes from a Nutrition Scientist, so a grain (or maybe a bucket) of salt is required.

                    • from oans’ link..

                      “..This deduction stems from the findings of their new study – which concludes that if everyone in New York state followed a low-fat vegetarian diet – the state could directly support almost 50 percent more people – or about 32 percent of its population – agriculturally. With today’s high-meat – high-dairy diet –

                      – the state is able to support directly only 22 percent of its population – say the researchers..”

                      and of course the reactionary-green weka never provides links for his/her orifice-plucked claims.

                      she/he just does seagull-drops..

                      …and then flies off again..

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Don’t forget the part you’re avoiding, Phil: “…adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency.”

            • Manuka AOR 4.1.1.1.2.2

              “the best way is to stop eating animals.”

              I haven’t eaten mammals or birds for ahh… few decades. But I grew up on the beach around Reef Point, where we had regular supply of snapper, flounder, mullet, mussels, tuatua, seasonal toheroa, sometimes crays. Didn’t like paua, could never eat kina. All free, and that’s what we had, together with veggies and fruit we grew and bread that we made. And I haven’t given them all up yet.

              Would like to source ethical pet food.

              • batweka

                I eat happy meat. That’s meat that’s come from animals raised by people I know or people I have checked out who get animal welfare, or sometimes feral animals (rabbit, venison, goat). I don’t eat a lot, so it’s not too onerous to do that.

                I actually find ethical dairy more of a problem to source, esp cheese, most of which is Fonterra controlled ie part of the industrial dairy complex.

                “Would like to source ethical pet food.”

                Have you checked out the raw meat diet? Rabbit would be the most obvious source of ethical meat.

                • Manuka AOR

                  “I eat happy meat.”
                  This one’s for you then, it’s “Happy Sheep” 🙂
                  http://www.kingsmeadecheese.co.nz/shop/category-2
                  (They really do look happy!)

                  “I actually find ethical dairy more of a problem to source, esp cheese”
                  NZ has fantastic artisan cheeses, including whole rounds in wax that store for ages. There are descriptions of the way they’re made and they’re available online – can buy small chunks to taste, then choose a whole one that will last a while.

                  There are lots, here are a couple:
                  http://www.evansdalecheese.co.nz/pages/9/ON-LINE-SHOP
                  http://www.whitestonecheese.com/pages/how-we-create-cheese

                  • batweka

                    “Happy sheep” 😀

                    I eat whitestone sometimes but don’t know where they get their milk from. Evansdale appear to use Fonterra milk (I’m guessing Whitestone does too),

                    In 1997 the factory moved to their present site at Hawksbury Village where they now use 1,500L of milk/day, produced locally and supplied by Fonterra. The milk is delivered raw and pasteurised on site. Colin’s son, Paul, is now the cheese maker and factory manager

                    http://www.evansdalecheese.co.nz/pages/3/About-Us

                    The only way to know is to ask the producer. I eat Clearwater yoghurt because I know they’re producing the milk themselves (or they used to).

                • Manuka AOR

                  “Have you checked out the raw meat diet?”

                  Yes, and I do get some but would like to have cans to store as well.

                • “..happy meat…”

                  an oxymoron/self-justifying/excusing-fantasy..

                  ..and to a gobsmacking degree..

                  ..and if yr definition of ‘happy meat’ is a fattening period in a near-natural environment..

                  ..before their date with becoming ‘happy meat’..for you to eat..

                  ..you’d be up for some whale/dolphin ‘happy meat’..eh..?

                  ..’cos they live in their natural environment until their date with yr ‘happy-plate’..

                  ..eh..?

                • @ weka..

                  “.. ethical dairy ..”

                  ..yet another self-excusing oxymoron…

                  ..the bobby-claves still go to the slaughterhouse..

                  ..on their way to become ‘happy-veal’..for weka to eat..

                  ..the cows are still slaughtered at the end of their 4-5 yr peak-miking times..(natural lifespan 24 yrs..)

                  ..’ethical-dairy’..my arse..!

                  • b waghorn

                    I hope no bugs are killed in the production of your food and no possums trapped to protect your weed or are they lesser forms of life.

                    • aahh..!..the bug-defence..!

                      ..i am steeling myself for the screaming-plants..

                      ..that’s next..isn’t it..?

                    • Clemgeopin

                      Phil, do you eat yoghurt? Have pity on the helpless multitude of screaming Streptococcus thermophilus!

                    • TheContrarian

                      Phil is a nitwit. Engaging him is less satisfying than eating vegan sausages.

                    • no clem..i don’t eat yoghurt..

                    • aahh..!..contrarian..there is more than a touch of the oscar wilde about you..eh..?

                      ..such mastery of the language..

                      ..you make the words dance..

                      + @ weka..

                      ..most of that ‘land cleared’ is to grow soy to feed to animals for humans to eat..

                      ..and i presume this following was said by you without any trace of irony..

                      “..That seems to be related to the idea that some forms of life have value and others don’t..”

                      ..where does yr ‘happy-meat’ fit in/on that paradigm..?

                      ..their lives ‘worthy’..until you want to eat them..?

                      ..and can you tell the difference..just by looking at it/eating it..between ‘happy-meat’ and ‘sad-meat’..?

                      ..is the ‘sad-meat’ saltier..?..from the tears..?

                    • Clemgeopin

                      @Phil.

                      Re yogurt. I was being factitious. Just a joke that went sour like yogurt as you don’t eat the stuff. I wasn’t being part of the mass attack on you!
                      Actually, yogurt is supposed to be very good for the body.

                  • b waghorn

                    Not sure you’ll believe me but I hadn’t heard of the bug defence before . you just wind me because you don’t seem to realize no one has ever won any one over buy ranting at them.

                    • i am not ‘ranting’..

                      ..i am just highlighting the self-excusing/justifying bullshit the reactionary green weka spouts…

                      ..with his/her ‘happy meat’..

                      ..and ‘ethical dairy’…fantasies/chimeras..

                      ..i am quite cool calm and collected here..

                    • TheContrarian

                      “i am quite cool calm and collected here.”

                      Ja, maybe. You’re still a fucking mutant though

                    • batweka

                      not just the bugs, there’s all the mammalian and bird wildlife killed by harvesting machinery used in soy and other monocropping, as well as the deaths due to habitat destruction when land is cleared.

                      I don’t mind people ranting. It’s phil’s apparent complete lack of ability to engage in rational debate that I find tedious. I was vegetarian for several decades so I know the arguments and can actually argue most sides of the debate. Phil on the other hand thinks that finding research on the internet to support his beliefs constitutes debate (as opposed to making a logical argument).

                      My fav argument at the moment is similar to your possum one. It’s that if we don’t control possum and stoat populations in NZ then we will have species extinction of native animals. I’ve had people put forward the argument that we should let nature run its course, that it’s wrong for humans to kill individual animals but it’s right for humans to stand by and watch whole species go extinct. That seems to be related to the idea that some forms of life have value and others don’t.

                    • b waghorn

                      @Phil it must be your writing style because when I read it it’s like i’m standing in a dannivirke nowester .

                    • The Al1en

                      Pu won’t answer the possum poser, I’ve asked before and no go.

                      If he ‘engages’ ask him if he supports pest control to protect kiwi, tuatara and weta or should they be left to fend for themselves?
                      And Is he for or against 1080 drops, shooting or trapping?

  5. Send the whole disgusting barbaric evidence and corrupt unwillingness to PETA. Factory farmers only understand money and when it says good bye that’s when they will listen. Ditto National.

  6. RedLogix 6

    In my experience animal cruelty is one thing that generally cuts across political affiliation. What we are seeing here is probably Ministry capture by industry interests.

  7. Great work John. There is no question that the government puts industry interests before the animals who are the object of the exploitation.

  8. schwen 8

    Watching the video evidence of animal cruelty, it’s hard to believe people are not being prosecuted for these barbaric actions. I cannot believe that, despite having a gun at their disposal, they used a hammer to kill a pig. I do however hope that the drive towards abolishing animal cruelty on farms does not go too far. I am a beef farmer, and to get some cattle to move through the race in the cattle yards while weighing or drenching, you sometimes need to whack them pretty hard on the rump with a stick or plastic pipe to get them to move. Electric prods are also used to get them up ramps and onto trucks. There is sometimes no other way to move stubborn animals. I hope animal rights campaigners recognise the difference between this sort of animal movement necessity vs. outright cruelty as seen on the Farmwatch footage.

    • lprent 8.1

      I have spent a number of years on farms because my parents had a 88 acre hill country “hobby” farm at puhio for about 25 years, and I spent a year as a farm hand before university. I have had the joy of getting animals into races, and to pick an example, that something that they are extremely reluctant to do when they are sick and you want to examine them.

      I also have a niece who is an ardent vegan and animal rights activist. I’m pretty sure that they are aware of the difference. I have at various points had some ‘spirited’ discussions with her and her fellow activists (including John).

      While many on the edges would almost certainly prefer that farming of animals for food wasn’t done at all. In my view, they are also quite clear that they’d prefer to stop barbaric and pointless cruelty first and immediately. Their next priority would be to improve the living conditions of imprisoned animals in cages.

      My parents did put in a shed for angora rabbits and chinchillas. I wasn’t exactly happy with that myself at the time. But the conditions they had them in looked like paradise compared to some of the footage of sheds that farm watch and others groups have shown me for some animal sheds. I’ve come to the conclusion that generally cages just seem to lead to abuse and poor quality food.

      The curious thing is that from my time around farmers, is that I’d say that those would generally be their priorities as well. Needless cruelty wasn’t something that I saw often. The MPI seems to be a considerable impediment to good farming practices as well as improving animal welfare.

    • Rosie 8.2

      Hi schwen. Genuine question. When moving your cattle through the race for the purposes you mention, is it possible to consider that the cattle are not being stubborn, as we humans may view them as, but rather reluctant to move into a confined space as they take time to assess the danger of it? These spaces are not natural to them, despite the fact they have been raised among such structures.

      If so, would it be an idea to be patient with them until they were ready to move on their own accord? Whats the hurry? Surely the less stress placed on them would allow them to be more trusting of the situation. Is there not a less abusive way of moving reluctant cattle? (And yes, I acknowledge your treatment of the animals isn’t on the scale of abuse that Farmwatch is dealing with)Is there a way to think of it from their point of view?

      I’m not trying to be a daft townie. I did grow up in a semi rural environment and had horses for years, and also spent ages trying to get them on floats, so know what it’s like trying to get large animals to “obey” us. (Without going into the argument that we have an expectation that animals should be obedient to us and that they have their own free will) The only way you could get them on in the end was to just be patient and let them go on when they trusted they would be ok. The more you coerced the worse it became.

      • b waghorn 8.2.1

        I was putting heifers through a race today and am a firm believer in keeping them as calm as possible and find you still have to nudge the odd one along , if someone has consistent problems it will be one of three things IMO poor stockman ship , bad yard design or bad breading (not culling out the wild ones) .
        One other thing I’ve noticed in my time is stessed workers and stock abuse go hand in hand.

        • Rosie 8.2.1.1

          Good to get your perspective there waghorn – thanks.

        • That last point is definitely true. People who feel ill-treated tend to kick down, and what safer target than an animal that can’t tell anyone what you did?

          Ensuring the well-being of workers is just as important in preventing animal cruelty as providing adequate space, freedom, food, and other sorts of care for the animals themselves.

      • schwen 8.2.2

        HI Rosie, last week I sold about 22 yearling steers, and had a helper to draft and weigh them before the truck arrived. They have to stand about three hours off grass in the yards before weighing to allow the release of waste that the purchaser doesn’t want to spend $3/kg for, so they do get used to being between rails in yards.

        My helper had a trick of raising and twisting their tails to get them to move, and I forbade this, opting for the pipe spanking or stick prodding as being the preferable stimulant. You may be aware of several cases of conviction recently for twisting dairy cows tails to the point of breakage?

        Anyway, I treat my animals as fairly and humanely as I can, and to move this particular mob between paddocks, I simply walked ahead of them rather than needing to move them with the dogs. The stock agent even reckons I spoil my animals, and they will be in for a shock when they reach their next destination on a much bigger farm in the far north.

        The truckie is on a timetable and cannot afford to be too patient, therefore uses the electric prod to get things moving a bit faster, especially into the top ramp of the truck, as these animals had never been trucked before.

        • Rosie 8.2.2.1

          Hi schwen.

          Thanks for your reply. Helpful to get some more context. Good to hear that you are aware of the the appropriate ways to treat your animals.

          I’m still thinking, from an animals perspective, that enclosure is still far away from their comfort zone, so during that 3 hours in the yards they will be getting agitated. I don’t know how you get around that. I know how the stabling of horses drives them nuts and unfortunately humans react to their natural behavioural responses with force and coercion.

          I get that the truckies are on tight schedules and this in itself is a problem – they often have to work long and unsafe hours to achieve their workload. There remains a major issue within the industry of fatigue.

          It worries me that the stock agent perceives your treatment of your animals as ‘spoiling them’. There is nothing about treating farm animals with respect that would constitute spoiling them. He/she sounds like from the dark ages of NZ farming. (I feel I can say that freely given my grandparents were dairy farmers and we still have relations farming).

          Finally, yes, I’m well aware of the inhumane treatment of tail twisting and the recent charges where a farm hand broke the tails of a large number of dairy cows. He also used other means of violence towards them. The MPI prosecutor, Grant Fletcher I think his name is, however stated earlier this year, that the MPI doesn’t have an issue with tail twisting as a coercive treatment. I find this attitude appalling.

          It’s high time we had a serious government enforced code of welfare for farmed animals – not some half arsed industry standard designed by the sector itself, as is the case with pig farming.

  9. ghostwhowalksnz 9

    Where is the SPCA on this. They seem to be able to prosecute farm animal neglect on their own accord.

    Im not pointing the finger at them, but I dont think they have the capture problem that is inherent with MPI.

    Is there some sort of legislative restriction that means they cant act, as it would seem that pigs are animals too ( and some of the smarter ones) and deserve as much protection as horses etc

    • also..where the fuck is greenpeace on this..?

      ..still just having bbq’s..?

      ..and my major beef with spca is how they sign off on/approve the vile experiments done on animals by the vivisectors..

      ..hundreds of thousands of them a year..

      ..the spca is a textbook example of a charity/do-good organisation owned by those it is meant to be holding to account..

      ..you want animal-cruelty..?

      ..go and inspect the horrors/slow-deaths/tortures inflicted on those defenceless animals by those sick vivisecting fucks..

      ..and once again..

      ..where the fuck is greenpeace..?

      • The Al1en 9.1.1

        Off topic and I’m not engaging just responding to a very one sided opinion, so don’t feel threatened or attacked by it, but for the record, I’ll take a cure for cancer or aids over the animals every day of the week, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to their suffering as I am a human Human being.

        • batweka 9.1.1.1

          put half the funding that goes into cure research into prevention instead and reduce the load all round (less disease, less cruelty to animals, improved environment, improved health).

    • lprent 9.2

      As I understand it, the MPI inspectors, police, and SPCA all have the ability to lay charges. The problem is less that than gaining the evidence to get a conviction.

      The SPCA is a private body who are essentially taking a private prosecution against a brute. They simply can’t have too many cases fail because that pulls money away from cases that do get a conviction. So they tend to concentrate on winnable cases.

      The usual problem is access to the properties to gain evidence after a complaint is received. The SPCA have no rights to enter someones property to get evidence. The police do, but require some pretty specific evidence and would usually need to get warrant of some form.

      The MPI inspectors have the rights to enter properties pretty much at will and to lay charges. They are also specifically (under) funded for this task. However they appear to use just about any excuse to avoid doing anything substantive. They usually tell farmers about any forthcoming inspections, apparently to give them time to tidy up. Whenever I read any reports from the MPI these days, I always groan when I see the words that they didn’t find anything that was so clearly visible on videos because of that.

      Just at present groups like Farm Watch are critical to dealing with systematic animal abuse. They are the only groups doing surprise inspections of the arseholes of the farming world.

      • Rosie 9.2.1

        Thanks for the specifics – good to know.

      • Tiro 9.2.2

        + 100

      • ghostwhowalksnz 9.2.3

        This is not correct. The SPCA does have powers under legislation for animal welfare.

        They are not just do gooders whos hands are tied. Its often forgotten the SPCA in Britain came about because of cruel treatment of cattle.

        “The Society operates under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, the legislation relating to animal welfare in New Zealand, under which warranted SPCA inspectors may investigate animal welfare complaints and prosecute where necessary.”- Wikipedia

        They can and do have powers to enter private property

        Im not sure about the level of state or local body funding, but they are essentially a self funded organisation.

        My question still is what can the do, since they do have powers of entry and prosecution.

  10. Rosie 10

    Once again John, Thank You for your steady and tenacious commitment to addressing the issue of horrific abuse and cruel practices on our farms. It’s not the kind of work that just anybody can do, no matter how much they want to help change the situation.

    MPI are really even more foolish than I thought, if they are trying malign yourself and Farmwatch despite your cooperation.

    OAB is right, I believe, it’s hard not to immediately be suspicious of potential donations to the National party, funnelled via the pork industry lobby – we all know about cabinet club, so it’s hardly scandalous to suggest that cash for favours could be involved here. Nathan Guy has never struck me as being particularly intelligent or principled and would be a push over for farmers who are too lazy and cruel too change their abusing ways.

    Finally, after 20th September, during the time that I was dizzy with despair at the election result and all that that meant, I didn’t forget that we had the opportunity to phase out factory farming by 2017, under a Labour and Green Government. NZer’s have to be held partially accountable for allowing these practices to continue.

    Kia Kaha John and co workers. Hold your heads up high

  11. Belladonna 11

    The Nats dont care about people so why would they care about animals.
    Thanks to people like John, Lynn’s niece and all of the committed animal rights activists some of the morons get caught but too many get away with terrible cruelty. The SPCA need to be more active in the promotion of humane treatment of animals. They are happy chomping down on their meat and dont make the connection that they are encouraging a lot of this cruelty. They have a lot of money but dont seem to want to spend it apparently.
    SAFE’s collection is coming up so please donate generously.

  12. Clemgeopin 12

    Your account is very disturbing to read. The attitude of MPI and the ineptness of the minister is very appalling.

    I suggest you sue these MPI bastards and the useless minister for such callousness and lack of truthfulness.

    I will gladly contribute to a legal fund if you set one up.

  13. johnm 13

    “The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”
    ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

    “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”
    ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

    “Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are its tormented souls.”
    ― Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

    “universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”
    ― Arthur Schopenhauer

    “And to this world, to this scene of tormented and agonised beings, who only continue to exist by devouring each other, in which, therefore, every ravenous beast is the living grave of thousands of others, and its self-maintenance is a chain of painful deaths; and in which the capacity for feeling pain increases with knowledge, and therefore reaches its highest degree in man, a degree which is the higher the more intelligent the man is; to this world it has been sought to apply the system of optimism, and demonstrate to us that it is the best of all possible worlds. The absurdity is glaring.”
    ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol 1

    What a shame man is to do such cruelty, such horror.We are lost. It screams out to heaven.

  14. Murray Rawshark 14

    MPI only hires the most ethical, moral, and competent staff. They are unimpeachable. Here are a couple of them:

    1. The sex offending army officer

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1407/S00025/sex-pests-appointment-to-top-government-job-demands-answers.htm

    2. The John Key impersonating poaka

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/63729991/excop-escapes-drink-record

  15. Tiro 15

    Dear John thank you for your courage to bring this to the attention of officials and the wider public.
    From your article and experience with the MPI it should be quite clear that animal abuse on an industrial complex has no consequences for low live.
    but I think we have know that for some years now, haven’t we.
    Should this lowlife have filmed themselves (and boost about it on the net) it would have made no difference to the outcome.
    Why not mention the farm, why not show the faces of this lowlife?
    I read a piece with a similar situation in the US. Ppl camped out in front of the abusers home and followed him everywhere he went (‘guidance’ to prevent he would abuse again). 3- 4 months later the whole family moved out of town.

  16. Belladonna 16

    Go to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) the powerful vegan
    research site if you want articles on veganism and to your conscience if you want justification for the brutality involved in eating meat.

  17. Clemgeopin 17

    Tonight, On Campbell live, this inhumane barbaric behaviour of the pork industry was highlighted.

    On Friday night I sent an email to John Campbell at tv3 drawing his attention to the above article published here in The Standard that day. I suggested that he might be interested in investigating and exposing this callous behaviour as it is an urgent public interest issue of immense importance. I did not get an acknowledgement, so I am not sure if my email did have any influence on their running this story tonight. Anyway, I am very glad he highlighted this issue tonight.

    Here is the video of the segment from TV3’s Campbell live programme from tonight:

    The programme put out this notice before the video:

    *Warning: Some viewers may find footage in this story disturbing due to graphic images – we advise discretion.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/exposing-nzs-pig-farming-industry-2014120919#ixzz3LNqJ0z25

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