11 Oct 2009

Dairy industry not aware of other animal neglect cases

7:22 am on 11 October 2009

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the dairy industry has assured him it is not hiding other animal neglect cases after more cases were discovered on Crafar-owned farms

The Crafars run New Zealand's largest family-owned dairying business. Crafar Farms was placed into receivership this week, reportedly owing about $200 million.

In September, Agriculture Minister David Carter ordered an inspection of its 22 central North Island dairy properties after about 100 dead or dying calves were found on its Bennydale farm in Waikato.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said significant animal welfare issues have been discovered at a number of the Crafar's properties.

MAF director-general Murray Sherwin told Checkpoint on Friday animal neglect was discovered on at least six other farms. Fifty cows have been destroyed and it is possible more may have to be put down.

Mr Carter says he met industry representatives on Friday to find out whether wider problems exist.

"I pressed them on whether there were any other issues that they needed to alert MAF of.

"Collectively the industry is unaware of any other farming practices like this anywhere in the dairy industry of New Zealand," he said.

'Poor management'

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has yet to decide whether to prosecute the Crafars.

Mr Sherwin said poor management, financial stress and a shortage of feed going into a cold winter are behind the problems.

The Crafars have been convicted and fined in the past for animal neglect and illegal discharge of effluent.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson says farmers are generally highly motivated to protect animals, but at certain times "things just don't go right".