What’s in a name? Introducing the Ministry for Primary Industries

On the 30th April, the Ministry for Agriculture officially changed its name to the Ministry for Primary Industries. The new name makes it clearer than ever that the responsibility for animal welfare needs to be given to another department.

The reorganised Ministry encompasses the animal farming sector, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. Somewhere in there it is also responsible for animal welfare.

Animal Farm

As our friends over at the Solution said, “would it be possible to make the ridiculous conflict of interest at the heart of New Zealand’s animal welfare regime more obvious?”

That this is the Ministry supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the animals is a classic example of the fox being in charge of the hen house (or cage) as it were – within a business model, economic interests will always win out over animal welfare considerations. Using a ‘cost-benefit’ analysis will clearly show how the economic benefits supposedly justify some, if not most kinds of cruelty to animals.

For example, despite compromising animal welfare, and being in breach of animal welfare legislation, the continued use of cages for layer hens, or farrowing crates for mother pigs, are allowed in the interests of industry.

As the name suggests, the main objective of the Ministry for Primary Industries is “growing and protecting the primary sector, the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy”.

The farming lobby is happy because it’s ‘for’ Primary Industries, as opposed to the former Ministry ‘of’ Agriculture. There are said to be 150 million farmed animals in New Zealand, and who is looking out for them? The need for a Ministry ‘for’ Animals could not be made clearer.

There is a need for an independent and objective Government body to protect them, there is a need for enforcement of present laws, and there is a need for welfare Codes that can actually be enforced. SAFE will be making these demands during the review of the Animal Welfare Act.

Eliot Pryor, SAFE Campaign director

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