New animal wel­fare reg­u­la­tions ex­plained

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - News -

THE GOV­ERN­MENT’S RE­LEASE OF NEW animal wel­fare reg­u­la­tions has been ac­com­pa­nied by a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion and anx­i­ety amongst op­er­a­tors, says RTF se­nior pol­icy an­a­lyst and Na­tional Live­stock Trans­port & Safety Group (NLTSG) ad­vi­sor Mark Ngat­uere. “To some ex­tent this un­cer­tainty is to be ex­pected and is of­ten the case when change is in­volved. Es­sen­tially the new reg­u­la­tions strengthen the abil­ity to place re­spon­si­bil­ity di­rectly where it lies – which is very of­ten not with the trans­porter. And in that re­spect the reg­u­la­tions pro­vide a lot more sup­port to op­er­a­tors than be­fore,” says Ngat­uere.

“As a con­se­quence, RTF and NLTSG sug­gested that MPI make peo­ple avail­able to talk to in­dus­try di­rectly through a se­ries of meet­ings.

“There has been a fair bit of re­cent his­tory in terms of pol­i­cy­mak­ing that has sought to place an un­fair level of re­spon­si­bil­ity on trans­porters, which un­der­stand­ably makes the in­dus­try very wary. We saw dur­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the new bobby calf reg­u­la­tions that, un­less the in­dus­try pushes back on is­sues of per­ceived un­fair­ness, we’re li­able to find our­selves car­ry­ing the can for what should be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of farm­ers or other sec­tors.”

With re­gards to the 2018 reg­u­la­tions there are ar­eas that RTF and the NLTSG iden­ti­fied as of in­ter­est to trans­porters, says Ngat­uere.

First is the use of elec­tric prod­ders. The new reg­u­la­tions state that an electr ic prod­der must not be used o n an animal ex cept where cat­tle, deer or pigs weigh over 150kg and – es­pe­cially with deer and pigs – only in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

There has been con­cern re­gard­ing the 150kg limit and the

dif­fi­culty of a trans­porter guess­ing the animal’s weight with any ac­cu­racy and given the dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment they are re­quired to work in.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ngat­uere, there is a de­gree of dis­cre­tion avail­able to the reg­u­la­tor and those is­sued with an in­fringe­ment have the de­fence avail­able that the animal ap­peared to be over the min­i­mum weight at the time of trans­porta­tion – or there were per­sonal safety con­sid­er­a­tions that war­ranted the use of the prod­der. MPI has ac­knowl­edged that health and safety over­rides all other con­sid­er­a­tions.

The is­sue of pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions is an­other hoary old ch­est­nut. The reg­u­la­tions ap­ply­ing to trans­port are backed by pro­vi­sions that ap­ply to senders of live­stock, eg farm­ers.

NLTSG ex­pressed to MPI the im­por­tance of senders ul­ti­mately be­ing re­spon­si­ble for pre­sent­ing un­fit an­i­mals for trans­port, par­tic­u­larly as they’re the ones who spend sig­nif­i­cant time with the an­i­mals be­fore trans­porta­tion and have greater knowl­edge of their health and any con­di­tions they may have.

Says Ngat­uere: “While this is im­por­tant, and the NLTSG has done a great job con­sis­tently ad­vo­cat­ing this point, there does still ex­ist trans­porter re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­ject un­fit an­i­mals if they find them – un­less they’re pre­sented with a vet cer­tifi­cate for travel.”

In re­sponse to the ob­vi­ous anx­i­ety felt across the in­dus­try on these is­sues, RTF and the NLTSG ar­ranged for op­er­a­tors to have the op­por­tu­nity to meet with MPI staff and dis­cuss ex­actly what the new reg­u­la­tions mean.

Meet­ings were sub­se­quently held in Feild­ing, Whangarei and In­ver­cargill, each in­volv­ing around 60 trans­port in­dus­try at­ten­dees. There are also plans for meet­ings in Can­ter­bury and the Waikato.

“The NLTSG and RTF are ex­tremely grate­ful that Leonie Ward, the man­ager of MPI’s Animal Wel­fare Sec­tor Li­ai­son Team, made her­self avail­able to at­tend those meet­ings and re­spond to op­er­a­tors’ con­cerns. It is in­valu­able for trans­porters to hear straight from the reg­u­la­tor and helps to dis­pel a num­ber of myths around the new reg­u­la­tions,” says Ngat­uere.

“We also ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort that RTA re­gions have put in to fa­cil­i­tate these meet­ings.”

From the meet­ings it was ob­vi­ous that fur­ther con­fu­sion has cen­tred around where re­spon­si­bil­ity lies on an animal giv­ing birth while be­ing trans­ported and where re­spon­si­bil­ity lies in cases of back-rub.

“Leonie did a great job of ex­plain­ing that it is in­deed un­rea­son­able to ex­pect the trans­porter to be able to ac­cu­rately as­sess how close an animal is to giv­ing birth in the few mo­ments avail­able as an animal is be­ing loaded onto the truck.”

The re­spon­si­bil­ity for that lies squarely with the sender, who should not be know­ingly trans­port­ing an­i­mals in that sit­u­a­tion, un­less they have a vet cer­tifi­cate stat­ing the animal is fit for trans­port. If, how­ever a trans­porter is in­formed that an animal is very near to giv­ing birth and doesn’t have the nec­es­sary vet cer­tifi­cate and they do still de­cide to trans­port it, then the trans­porter does share in the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the animal giv­ing birth on the truck.

“The right re­sponse in that sit­u­a­tion is to in­form the sender of the an­i­mals that you can­not cart the an­i­mals.”

The back-rub is­sue is an­other where myth had sup­planted fact in some quar­ters, with many op­er­a­tors be­liev­ing that they risked be­ing is­sued in­fringe­ments for pre-ex­ist­ing back-rub con­di­tions.

“The reg­u­la­tions are ac­tu­ally pretty clear on this point,” ex­plains Ngat­uere: “The spe­cific clause states that a per­son must not trans­port a cat­tle beast, deer, sheep, goat, or pig in a man­ner that causes back­rub. Once again, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions lies with the sender and – as has been the case for a while now – if the trans­porter is not sat­is­fied with the over­all fit­ness of the animal or abil­ity to trans­port with­out caus­ing in­jury then they shouldn’t cart it.”

The golden rule that all trans­porters, farm­ers, meat pro­ces­sors, stock agents and vets need to have in their mind is that an­i­mals must not be trans­ported un­less they are fit enough to with­stand the en­tire jour­ney with­out suf­fer­ing un­nec­es­sary or un­rea­son­able pain or dis­tress, Ngat­uere points out.

“If i n your j udge­ment an animal that you iden­tify when load­ing shows signs of phys­i­cal suf­fer­ing, then it ’s your right and re­spon­si­bil­ity to leave it be­hind.”

The reg­u­la­tions can be viewed at www.leg­is­la­ un­der Animal Wel­fare (Care and Pro­ce­dures) Reg­u­la­tions 2018. Fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion of the new reg­u­la­tions is also avail­able by click­ing through the Animal Wel­fare Reg­u­la­tions link on the Animal Wel­fare page un­der In­dus­try In­for­ma­tion on the RTF web­site.


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