The Government's plan for a possible ban on the live export of cattle doesn't go far enough, according to an animal rights organisation.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said yesterday the Government was considering several options following a review of the export of live animals.

SAFE head of campaigns Marianne Macdonald said this was a good first step, but much more action was needed.

"We're pleased to see that the Agriculture Minister is taking the welfare of live animals who are exported seriously. However, a ban on the export of live cattle will not go far enough," she said.

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Ban on live cattle exports considered

"New Zealand exports millions of animals every year to countries whose animal welfare, transport and slaughter standards are below ours," said Macdonald.

"This is a crucial time to make a positive change for animals in the live export trade. The Government must show compassion to animals and ban all live export of farmed animals."

O'Connor said a conditional ban on the live export of cattle was one of several options being considered as part of a review of the trade in live animals.

"The continued export of cattle may be a risk to New Zealand's brand. The time has come to rethink this area and consider whether it's something that fits within our values as a country.

"When animals leave New Zealand we set conditions that are considered world-class by veterinarians. But there have been incidents over the last few years that highlight the fact that once animals leave New Zealand we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing when they reach their destination.

"That's something that's not acceptable to me and I know it's not acceptable to a large number of New Zealanders."

O'Connor said the matter would go to the Cabinet Economic Development Committee for consideration in late July.

"The options presented in the review will range from tightening up the existing standards to absolute or conditional prohibition on some or all parts of this trade.

"It's a complex area and there are a number of factors Cabinet needs to consider, including public expectation, international trade commitments and the impacts on rural New Zealand. Live exports are a source of income to rural communities, almost $30 million in cattle exports alone last year - but has been dropping in recent years."