Meat & Livestock News

Bridging the Animal Welfare Divide

TL;DR: A report highlights New Zealand’s animal welfare gap, showing many imports don’t meet local standards. It calls for extending NZ welfare laws to all products, aligning with public demand and ensuring fair competition.

A recent report by Animal Policy International, the SPCA and the NZ Animal Law Association has shed light on a significant issue: many animal products entering New Zealand don’t meet its animal welfare standards. These include practices like using battery cages for hens, sow stalls for pigs, and mulesing sheep, all banned in New Zealand for their cruelty.

The report, titled “Closing the Welfare Gap: Why New Zealand Must Apply Its Animal Protection Standards to Imports,” urges New Zealand to extend its welfare laws to all market products, regardless of their origin. This move is not only backed by public demand but is also allowed under World Trade Organisation rules to uphold public morals.

Launched by Animal Policy International, the SPCA, and the NZ Animal Law Association, and hosted by Green Party MP Steve Abel, the report underscores Kiwis’ deep concern for farm animal welfare. Over 80% of New Zealanders believe imported products should comply with national welfare laws.

Key Findings:

  • More than 90% of pork in New Zealand comes from places allowing practices New Zealand has banned.
  • All wool imported in 2022 was from Australia, where mulesing is still common.
  • Over 80% of liquid egg imports last year were from countries using battery cages.
  • A majority of imported fish comes from nations lacking slaughter welfare standards.

The report highlights the contradiction of importing products that don’t meet the standards expected of New Zealand farmers, suggesting an extension of animal welfare laws could level the playing field for local farmers against cheaper, lower-standard imports.

Looking ahead, potential trade agreements could further open New Zealand’s market to low-welfare imports, making it crucial to advocate for higher standards of animal welfare in trade discussions.

NZ Pork’s chief executive, Brent Kleiss, supports the report’s findings, emphasising the need for higher welfare standards for imported animal products to ensure fairness and uphold the values New Zealanders expect.

SPCA’s chief scientific officer, Arnja Dale, finds the report’s findings extremely concerning, pointing out the disconnect between New Zealand’s animal welfare laws and the reality of imports. This gap presents a clear opportunity for the new government to extend welfare regulations to imports, closing the welfare gap and ensuring that all products sold in New Zealand adhere to its high animal welfare standards.