Federated Farmers wants stiffer penalties introduced for livestock rustlers, including equipment and vehicle confiscation, Rural Security spokesman Miles Anderson says.

Minister Ian McKelvie's Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill is now before the Primary Production Select Committee select committee.

Submissions closed two weeks ago and Federated Farmers and other organisations were submitters.

The amendment to the Sentencing Act 2002 would make theft of livestock an aggravating factor at sentencing and would allow harsher penalties to be imposed on convicted thieves.


However, Federated Farmers did not think it was tough enough and wanted stiffer penalties, including equipment, trailer and vehicle confiscation, in addition to the sentencing provisions outlined in the Bill.

Mr Anderson said Federated Farmers had asked the committee to consider that stock theft be made a specific criminal offence, to enable the seizure of equipment and vehicles similar to those under the Fisheries and Wild Animal Control Acts.

Mr Anderson said livestock rustling (removal or slaughter of livestock as opposed to poaching, which is hunting wild animals on private property without permission) cost farmers more than $120 million annually.

''Not only that, like anyone who has been robbed, there is the worry and anxiety for farmers and also concern about having people roaming on your property [without permission], and quite often those people are armed, and there is the risk if they happen to come across armed thieves.''

Rural Women New Zealand said the amendment did not go far enough.

National Finance chairwoman Rachael Dean said the term ''livestock'' needed to be expanded to cover all living revenue-generating farm assets, including bees, game estates and orchards.

Mr Anderson said livestock rustling was extremely frustrating for farmers.

''Livestock rustling costs to the farmers is not only the value of stock missing, there is the cost of replacement stock, this year's production, and, if the stock are pregnant, they are missing out on the following year's production as well.''


He said he had two episodes on his property in the past 10 years.

''I don't know too many farmers who haven't had stock stolen.

''If there is a small number stolen, they are likely to be filling the freezer, but if when you start getting into double figures it is an economic thing.''

The organisation intended to lobby politicians at the submission stage of the Bill and he urged members to encourage their local MPs to vote for it.

Central Otago farmer and Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson agreed the amendment did not go far enough and said asset confiscation would serve as a better deterrent.

''[The courts] should be able to confiscate vehicles, trailers and equipment used in the rustling,'' Mr Paterson said.

''However, the issue is to catch them first and it is not that easy as where there is poaching, it is usually in isolated areas on the farm.''

He said he had not heard of any poaching or rustling in the area for a while.

''Just because it has been a bit quiet, does not mean it is not happening,'' he said.