A taskforce has made 11 recommendations to improve animal welfare in intensive winter grazing farm systems, the Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor confirmed today.
O'Connor said he established the Winter Grazing Taskforce in response to concerns about the impacts on animal welfare of some intensive winter grazing practices.
"I asked the taskforce to do a stocktake of the multiple initiatives that are already under way to promote good winter grazing and identify where we might work more together to improve practices".
The recommendations include:
• More work to understand and mitigate the long-term animal welfare consequences of intensive winter grazing practices.
• Expand knowledge of barriers to adopting improved animal welfare practices.
• More active surveillance to ensure animal welfare standards are being met.
• The establishment of a pan-sector action group to implement the recommendations.
Although winter crop grazing was necessary in some parts of the country to provide enough feed for stock at a time when there's not a lot of pasture "we must ensure farmers have the right tools and advice to ensure animal welfare" said O'Connor.
The Government was committed to working alongside farmers to maintain their ability to export on the "valuable New Zealand brand" and open up new trading markets said O'Connor.
"Our international reputation depends on getting this sort of thing right, as does our social licence to operate within New Zealand. Some farmers manage this system very well but for those who don't – we've got to find a way of doing it better and help them do so".
O'Connor said that following the taskforce's report, he'd asked the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to work with farmers and industry groups to ensure farmers get the help they need.
"I know that many farmers are already changing and adapting their practice and I thank them for the effort. We want to help in that work".
• Independent Chair: Dr John Hellstrom, ONZM
• Dr Arnja Dale, Chief Scientific Adviser, SPCA
• Dr Helen Beattie, Chief Veterinary Officer, NZ Veterinary Association
• Dr Stephen Hopkinson, dairy cattle vet & NZ Veterinary Association
• Ewen Mathieson, dairy farmer, Southland
• Pania King, sheep & beef farmer, Gisborne
• Dave Harrison, Beef+Lamb NZ
• Elaine Cook, Dairy NZ
• Dr Ross Monaghan, Senior Scientist, AgResearch
• Angus Robson, environment campaigner
Find out more about the taskforce's recommendations here.