Animal cruelty systemic in factory farming

On Sunday I was shocked by the follow up story to TVNZ Sunday’s investigation into pig factory farms in New Zealand. A link to the video can be found here.

The footage aired was obtained by FarmWatch, who set up a surveillance camera on a random farm in the North Island. This was a different farm to the one aired the previous week which showed pigs crammed together living in filthy wet conditions and swarms of rats overrunning the pigs.

This weekend’s footage exposes serious physical abuse being inflicted on pigs, including young piglets.  The video shows piglets being stomped and punched when they become distressed while being herded into trucks.  The footage also shows a farm worker bludgeoning a sow to death with what appears to be a hammer over the course of an hour.  The footage was so horrific that it could not be aired in its entirety.

Equally shocking is the fact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) admitted that there no proactive inspection regime by the Government. With over 100 million farmed animals in New Zealand, this is a serious flaw in our regulation of animal welfare in New Zealand.  Despite this, MPI claim they are doing satisfactory work.  This begs the questions, how can MPI be satisfied with its enforcement of animal welfare law when abuse of animals seems systematic in intensive farming systems?

Physical abuse and passive cruelty are both two sides of the same coin, and occur because animal welfare law allows for economic considerations and practicalities to be placed ahead of animal welfare. It is time for the wellbeing of animals, whether used in food production or for companionship, to be placed at the centre of animal welfare law.

This is why I have called for the setting up of an independent commissioner for animals.  It is obvious the Government does not take animal welfare seriously enough. It goes without saying that, if established, such a commissioner would need to be properly resourced to carry out inspection and enforcement in New Zealand.



4 Comments Posted

  1. Wichard, I agree that the amount of money spent on it, and minimal (if any) judicial punishment, is abysmal. The animal cruelty towards farmed animals is horrific. I always think, “If it was human mammals this was happening to, would we say it’s OK to do it for another … years?”. I do realise that it takes a real turnaround in thinking, and realisation that it’s just the same as doing it to a toddler, and I realise that many are addicted to animal flesh but really, it’s time we took a good hard look at what we’re doing to vulnerable creatures (similar to children and the elderly who lack a voice). It would make our whole society less violent and kinder if we put this issue at the fore-front. Takes a politican of courage to stand up, though. Someone like Gandhi perhaps.

  2. point taken Sue about the import of animals. Just to clarify, I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years but I am realistic about the chances of everyone turning vegetarian.
    My take on it is that this government and the previous labour government have not treated animal welfare serious judging by the number of inspectors and the fact that less than 1% of the MPI budget is spent on it.
    By doing that the government and MPI staff actually condone animal abuse no matter how loud they scream in their emails that they take it very seriously.
    Note also that the Auditor General has taken MPI to task because they have no decent plan on the shelf to deal with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease and you wonder what 4500 staff are doing there?

  3. Glad to see you are taking action on behalf of vulnerable creatures. I prefer that we would not eat animal flesh at all. But if you are going to, then ensure animal welfare for our country by not allowing imported animals, nearly always raised under bad standards, to come into our country. And of course, all inspectors should be entirely free of conflicts of interest i.e. have the animals’ welfare at heart please.

  4. I have emailed MPI over this issue and I too was shocked to hear that they have only 11 inspectors to look after the whole country. This is a massive organisation that depends on activists and Joe Public to make a complaint. On top of that they have 45 cross compliance officers but I later realised those are people like SPCA officers which is obviously cheap for the ministry.
    They also told me that several New Zealand livestock organisations are driven to improve animal welfare as a means of achieving market success and to market ‘added-value’ products, so no guessing where the ministry’s sympathy lies.
    I would like to propose a tax at let’s say 20 cents a kilo for all factory farmed meat sold in New Zealand so the public who insists on having this cheap and nasty meat can pay for a lot more inspectors who can actually start auditing farms.
    We pay a levy on our insurance for the Fire Service, I pay a special ACC levy for the type of work I am doing, we pay tolls on roads we want to use, we pay a levy on our petrol to build roads so why not on meat?
    Furthermore we need to levy imported factory meat as well and make sure that that meat is farmed to the same standards as here to create a level playing field.

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