National MP Ian McKelvie is to introduce a Bill to Parliament aimed at deterring the theft of livestock by providing judges with harsher penalties.
"The current law offers no deterrent, and the penalties don't reflect the gravity of the crime or the likely suffering of an animal being slaughtered by a rank amateur," Mr McKelvie said.
"These crimes are often committed at night in the more remote parts of New Zealand. Small-scale, opportunistic grabs of half a dozen sheep or cows are relatively common, but police and MPI say sophisticated gangs with links to organised crime are increasingly mounting well-planned raids on farms.
"This Bill will give more confidence to victims of livestock rustling that there is an additional deterrent in place to discourage this type of crime. It also aims to give the police a more vigorous tool to take more action."
Rustling was a major for farmers, he said, Federated Farmers estimating that it was costing farmers more than $120 million a year. A survey of more than 1000 farmers showed 26 per cent had had stock stolen in the previous five years, but almost 60 per cent of thefts had not been reported to police.
One Whanganui farmer lost 1400 lambs, worth about $120,000 in less than two weeks in 2016.