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National gives animal rights the chop

Written By: - Date published: 12:43 pm, March 24th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

Looks like National has more than workers’ rights on the chopping block.

Animal rights activists are up in arms at Agriculture Minister David Carter’s plan to scrap the six-year moratorium on live sheep exports. Live sheep exports were stopped in 2004 after 5000 sheep died on an Australian ship bound for Saudi Arabia.

Any one else feeling that day by day under a National government the hands on the clock are being wound back a little bit further?

34 comments on “National gives animal rights the chop ”

  1. Tim Ellis 1

    Any one else feeling that day by day under a National government the hands on the clock are being wound back a little bit further?

    It’s a nice meme, but no.

    Live exports of sheep began in 1985 under a Labour government, and peaked at a million live sheep exported, mainly to Arab countries, in the early 1990s. There is a demand for life sheep exports internationally and under WTO rules New Zealand can’t unilaterally ban them. There isn’t a unilateral ban of live sheep exports now. MAF has had the ability to issue export exemption certificates since 2003 for the export of live animals for slaughter. Many live animals have been exported for breeding since 2003.

    The issue of live exports of sheep is one of animal welfare. As long as adequate animal welfare measures are in place to ensure that sheep are well looked after during their voyage, I don’t see a problem with it.

    • lprent 1.1

      So you’d be happy that David Carter went with the sheep? Or if there is a case of a lack of animal welfare on those ships (which there will be) that he should be stuck in prison? Defined by the NZ Animal Welfare Act and with spot checks by the SPCA while en-route.

      That would make me feel more secure. From what I heard, the loss rate on those boats was always unacceptable, however it was only how bad that aussie boat was that made the issue show up in the media.

      • the sprout 1.1.1

        good idea. i’d like to see what rigorous measures are in place other than an ‘assurance’ from the exporters and carriers that welfare will be taken seriously.
        presumably some kind of independent third party to monitor would be essential.

      • Tim Ellis 1.1.2

        LP, after animal welfare certificates were introduced in 1999 (by a National government), the loss rate of live sheep mortalities from New Zealand has been only 0.8% (ie, no higher than the loss rate for animals transported by land in New Zealand from farm to slaughter).

        The Animal Welfare Act puts strict requirements on exporters to prove adequate animal management and welfare procedures before a certificate can be issued allowing live animals to be exported.

        Australia hasn’t had anything like the strict animal welfare requirements that New Zealand has had for the export of live animals.

        PB, as far as I know, there aren’t any differences in the export certificates required for export of live animals for slaughter versus live animals for breeding, or the conditions with which they are moved from New Zealand. I’m also not aware of a formal moratorium on exporting live animals for slaughter. The issue was never a permanent ban and was never intended as such, but putting in place animal welfare procedures to provide for animal safety.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Got any links to those numbers Tim or are we just to take your word for it?

          • jimbo

            Raven – some people occasionally post on here with a little background knowledge on something. I have no “proof” of course, but it seems pretty clear that Tim knows quite a bit more about this issue than me (and, gasp, you).

            It’s one thing to ask for sources, but would it hurt you too much to leave out the dripping contempt when you do so?

    • Chess Player 1.2

      Thanks, Tim, for such a well explained and balanced post.

      It’s nice to see facts and dates introduced to a debate such as this, which could become emotionally charged, or idealogically based, quite easily.

      • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1

        Tim left out some of the most important numbers though. Like how many sheep are exported for breeding, and under what conditions, and the differences between that and the export for slaughter trade. It’s almost like Tim brought that up as dishonest piece of distraction. Afterall, what does it have to do with the issue under discussion here?

        Likewise his introduction of the term ‘unilateral ban’. Where did that come from, and why is it there? Does Tim deny that there has been a moratorium in place, that there have been no shipments like this since 2004, and that National have decided to let them start up again? No he doesn’t, but a casual reader might think he did.

        All in all, Tim’s comment is his usual blizzard of sophistry aimed more at concealing negative images of what National has done, than at illuminating the matter under discussion.

        • Chess Player

          PB left out some of the most important numbers though. Like how many sheep are exported for breeding, and under what conditions, and the differences between that and the export for slaughter trade. It’s almost like PB brought that up as dishonest piece of distraction. Afterall, what does it have to do with the issue under discussion here?

          Likewise his introduction of the term ‘blizzard of sophistry’. Where did that come from, and why is it there?

    • Ari 1.3

      Ignoring of course the fact that animal welfare can hardly be served when sheep are loaded on top of cars and tied down to be transported before dying an often quite painful and sometimes slow death during ritual sacrifice, we’ll just say it’s okay so long as not too many of them die of overcrowding on the way there, all because the shipping companies are willing to promise us that this time they’ve got it right.

      Yeah, we’re really good at this whole “animal rights” thing. >< When you’re willing to go with under the same conditions, then maybe we might have something good in place.

      • Rex Widerstrom 1.3.1

        I was just about to make this point. While there may be some statistics (collected by whom, I wonder?) on deaths in transit, they tell us nothing about the conditions under which these animals suffer en route. The obercrowding, the sea sickness, the unnatural environment, the faeces and the fear are all prolonged well beyond what they’d be in a truck on the way to the NZ abbatoir.

        But more importantly, as Ari so rightly highlights, once they disembark our regulations, our monitoring and our animal welfare standards are worth nothing.

        Animals are picked up by their legs and flung into the back of trucks. Others are, as Ari says, tied to cars. And their eventual dispatch is far from humane.

        So spare me the survival stats. That just means more live through hell to endure even worse when they arrive.

  2. exbrethren 2

    I’d be very happy to see Carter in with the sheep.

    Any chance of adding Nasty Nick as a Blue-Green (wolf in sheeps clothing) rep?

  3. toad 3

    I’d send David Garrett with the sheep, and see if the Arabs treat him the same as they treat the sheep.

    Mind you, there may be cause for concern re the rectal integrity of the sheep.

  4. the sprout 4

    Ethical issues aside (embracing the National way and all), what ever happended to value added products?

    You can’t get any less value added to meat products than shipping the live beast.

    • Chess Player 4.1

      Sheesh, ever started, run, or worked in a business?

      You don’t turn down customers, you give them what they want. Otherwise you don’t stay in business very long.

      Of course the suppliers would prefer to add value before shipping the product (in this case animals), but if the customer doesn’t want that you can’t make them take it, and certainly can’t make them pay for it.

      Sometimes I think that everyone that goes to uni and takes Lefty101 should have to take the correquisite course in Reality101…

      • Matthew Pilott 4.1.1

        So you’re in a business and you sell GoodWidgets for $1. You decide to upgrade your Widgets’ amazing usefulness and now sell IncredibleWidgets for $5, even though you sell fewer of them.

        Q: Are you ‘bad’ at business?

        Q: If your customers wanted the old $1 GoodWidget, wouldn’t you be better off trying to find a better market?

        Maybe you should revisit, or begin, your uni days before trying to advise people on their course. Then you might start to see the flaws in your argument (I especially liked your “the customer” part, I didn’t realise the Global Meat Market was a monopsony).

        • Chess Player

          “Q: Are you ‘bad’ at business?

          Interesting question – well, I would say that if you upgraded your product to something you sold at 5 times the price, and sold so few of them that you made less profit overall, then yes, I would consider that a “bad” business decision. Being “bad” at business however, in my experience, only really applies when a person doesn’t learn from the mistakes that they make – and we all certainly make enough mistakes along the way.

          Q: If your customers wanted the old $1 GoodWidget, wouldn’t you be better off trying to find a better market?

          Ah, the old “if you build it, they will come” chestnut.

          Well, you could invest heavily in identifying and getting to that market, but most mature businesses, as opposed to startups, would approach such a venture in parallel with their existing (hopefully profitable) operation, rather than suddenly shift all their energy across to the new product.

          Fact is, it costs a lot more to find and sell something to a new customer than to deal with an existing one, assuming they pay their invoices.

          • Matthew Pilott

            But we’re Ambitious for New Zealand, remember?! (tongue-in-cheek, but I mainly wanted to point out Reality101 might have been a bit off)

            P.S. what’s been done with all those sheeps the last six years? Have our exports taken a hit, or have we moved on to greener pastures? Genuine question. It seems this was something that we could do without, even though I realise the industry has taken a hit when compared to Dairying – the conversions are more due to the (former) price of milk solids.

      • Rex Widerstrom 4.1.2

        Well it just so happens I’ve heard of a fairly wealthy collective* in Europe who’d be more than happy to pay top dollar for healthy, well-bred NZ children. Of course they don’t want us to ask too many awkward questions about what they’ll do with them once they arrive. They said something about “the Fritzl model” which I assume is something to do with their religion, which we must respect along with their God given right to hand us petro-dollars to look the other way.

        Because the bottom line is the dollar, not welfare and certainly not morality.

        So you’ll be herding yours up the gangway then, will you? I have a cattle prod you can borrow if they’re reluctant. It’s what the customer wants, after all, and of course we’d prefer not to compromise our principles, but…

        And what hapened to establishing Halal abbatoir practices in NZ, run to NZ welfare standards, anyway? Have they all closed down?

        * Note to Mr Plod: I haven’t really, so don’t get all excited and mount another fruitless operation, now will you.

  5. ak 5

    Typical bloody leftie bleating – don’t you realise you lost the election? none of those sheep will be forced to go, farmers will sit down and discuss the options with them and some will be happy for the trip. It’s called freedom of choice, dickwads. I’ve got 500 sheep and 27 of them are on a cruise already because guess what- I value their input and want to reward them. and if a few shearers and freezing workers lose their jobs good riddance, bloody ivory-tower dickheads, you pc bludgers have never even seen a sheep, hell i even married one typical bloody nanny state, I havent got time for this some of us have to work

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Any one else feeling that day by day under a National government the hands on the clock are being wound back a little bit further?

    They’re conservatives – they really do believe that the past was better than now.

    • Macro 6.1

      Yes! And then in a couple of years time – when the electorate wake up to the fact that they have been well and truely shafted – yet again – It’ll be the slow wind up again!

      Captcha 25,000 employ! That’ll be the day under this shower!

  7. Pat 7

    The figures I have read were that NZ Sheep farmers earned on average $13K last year. The industry is in decline and disarray, so any intiatives to restore some profttability should be looked at in these times of global recession.

    The fact is that farming is a messy business. Animals are bred to die. There may be more “humane” ways for them to die, but they still die. Go and watch cattle going through our extremely “humane” freezing works, after a “humane” trip on the back of a cattle truck.

    The most humane way to kill an animal is quickly, one clean shot to the head, whilst they are still in the paddock quietly eating grass. That’s how butchers do home kills, but impossible to achieve on an export scale.

    So face facts. We as are nation have always been in the animal killing business. If a sheep travels by truck to the freezing works or by ship to the Middle East, its fate is the same. We need the export markets, and the country needs the income.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      And selling the live sheep will increase that income how?

    • Ari 7.2

      I understand that people will do what they need to to make a profit, but I sincerely doubt that there’s more in selling half-starved sheep to be sacrificed by people who don’t know how to put them out of their misery properly than there is in doing the job right and selling high quality ethical and organic meat to premium markets like the UK and US, who we can out-compete on basically any basis.

      Even if there IS more, I seriously don’t think the amount it’s going to bring in is going to solve any of the larger problems for the economy or provide much relief to most kiwi farmers, as most (or is it all?) of the sheep exported are already owned by Saudis anyway.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    A think a valid point is that it is reasonable to assume that the end-users will want the sheep to arrive to them in prime condition. Half-starved, sick animals are not going to be readily accepted I wouldn’t think. Thus, there is a lot of motivation for exporters to ensure that the sheep are well cared for.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      The problem, IIRC, is that feeding them while they’re going across makes a big mess that then needs to be cleaned up which is just downright expensive. Personally, I’d actually be surprised if it could be done economically.

  9. Chris G 9

    We can send them over with all the welfare in the world to Saudi Arabia, BUT

    The fate that awaits them? Halal slaughter, where they slit the animals throat and let it bleed to death.. unlike normal abbatoirs where we hit them with an electric bolt to the head.

    These guys are calling for the process to be banned… Thats a little extreme. However should we condone the process?

    • Ari 9.1

      I don’t know specifically of anything in the Koran that forbids stunning animals before the process of slaughter, and while I accept it’s POSSIBLE to slaughter an animal painlessly this way, I seriously doubt that in every case it’s humane, as I know it certainly isn’t even where regulation requires animals to be stunned first.

      I don’t see why animals couldn’t be rendered unconscious first- except perhaps because businesses don’t want to risk paying the extra cost and marketing their product as ethically superior.

  10. Jum 10

    Posters can be as economically objective as they like. In the end, it’s all about destroying the gains this country has made in its journey towards humane sustainability. Society is judged by the way it treats its animals. I for one will not be a part of condoning this savage behaviour.

    Our steers are killed at home with a shot to the head. I’ve seen the look in their eyes when you herd them on to trucks. The fear and the knowing. The suffering of transportation from home to NZ factory is bad enough; transport on a ship ((the buyers and sellers didn’t seem to care what died or how the animals fared en route before)) must be far more traumatic.

    There is nothing remotely advantageous for NZ and NZers about David Carter’s decision to be Saudi Arabia’s poodle.

    Just another example of where NZ is headed under a savage hierarchy – savagery towards animals, savagery towards prisoners, savagery towards the rights of women and children and the rights of workers.

  11. Jum 11

    In the 90s (I think) an undercover investigator went into a UK abatoir to check out the killing floor. The process involved stunning of the animal before cutting the throat.

    The workers were paid per animal processed. They were deliberately ignoring the stunning process because it slowed down the time spent and their pay. The supervisors were condoning it.

    Why is it that everything ever debated always involves sacrificing the humanity for the money?

    • gingercrush 11.1

      My father who joined one of Invercargill’s meat works at the end of last year witnessed a worker there breaking a sheep’s back before that sheep was stunned and ultimately killed. He has also mentioned numerous times of workers being cruel to animals prior to the stunning and killing of animals.

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