MAF has found significant animal welfare problems on a number of the 22 Crafar-owned properties it inspected MAF Director-General Murray Sherwin announced today.
His media release says:
“Over the course of the last week, MAF animal welfare inspectors, assisted by New Zealand Food Safety Authority veterinarians and industry organisations, have visited all Crafar properties. A number of properties were found to have significant animal welfare issues. Action was taken at some others to alleviate immediate problems.
“On the properties where a response was necessary, MAF had issued explicit directions of what is needed to remedy particular problems such as under weight animals with underlying health issues, inadequate feed, overstocking, and lack of shelter for calves. Regular and consistent input from veterinarians and farm consultants has also been instructed and organised.
“MAF and the Crafar farm receivers are working together on remedial activity where necessary and will continue to collaborate and stabilise these properties for the long term.
“Animal welfare is our highest concern and the most important aspect of any investigation is the animals. While on farm inspections have been completed, and some serious animal welfare issues identified investigations are ongoing and evidence is still being gathered. It will take time before specific prosecution decisions are made.
“MAF has been supported in this work by industry groups such as Dairy NZ, Fonterra and Federated Farmers, who are all committed to animal welfare and expediting recovery on Crafar properties.
“From a broader perspective, MAF and industry groups have agreed to work together to better co-ordinate early warning systems to identify potential issues at both a systemic and individual farm level.”
Animal welfare ought to be the first priority on any livestock farm but finding an early warning system to alert authorities to problems where it isn’t won’t be easy.
DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Fonterra have all been supporting MAF. All are rightly concerned about animal welfare but all are limited in what they can do to monitor individual farms when it’s possible no-one except staff could go near stock for days, and sometimes weeks.
Some of Crafar’s critics have blamed Fonterra and said it should should play a bigger role in protecting stock. I’m not sure how that would happen when the only regular presence the company has on farms is the tanker driver who arrives, picks up the milk and leaves.
Unless there were cows or calves on or close to the tanker track, drivers wouldn’t see them. Even if they did see stock they might not recognise anything was amiss.
The problems on Crafar Farms aren’t because of the size of the operation by itself. It’s because the business grew too fast without goo systems and processes. But, as I’ve said in previous posts on this issue, the best systems and processes are only as good as the staff who implement them and you get good and bad staff on farms of any size.