Review of livestock exports

Closing Date:
Contact: Animal welfare policy

Update – 23 July 2020

Next steps

This consultation has closed. We received more than 3,500 submissions during the 9-week consultation period.

We have analysed the submissions and are preparing advice for the Minister of Agriculture about the feedback and possible policy options.

As New Zealand moves further into our recovery from COVID-19, the Government is considering the timing of decisions on key policies. This includes the livestock export review. Final decisions will consider the impact of COVID-19 on primary industries and their potential to help lead New Zealand's economic recovery, along with the objective of the review.

The review looked at how we can improve the welfare of livestock being exported, while:

  • protecting New Zealand's reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products
  • operating in compliance with New Zealand's international obligations
  • ensuring New Zealand's rural communities can be vibrant, resilient, and sustainable.

This page will be updated when decisions are made. Applications for the export of livestock will be considered against existing rules until decisions on the outcome of the review have been made and implemented.

About the review

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is leading a review of our livestock export rules to improve animal welfare and protect New Zealand's reputation as a responsible exporter.

The review covers cattle, sheep, goats, and deer.

We wanted to hear from people affected by any changes to the livestock export rules and people interested in animal welfare.

The review looked at a wide range of options – from strengthening existing standards to a total or conditional ban on some or all parts of the livestock export trade.​

Our cattle, sheep, goats, and deer are being exported as breeding stock to help develop the livestock industries in importing countries. A conditional ban on the export of cattle, sheep, goats, and deer for slaughter was introduced in 2007.

This review looks at what more we could do. Full details are in the consultation documents.

Submissions closed on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. (This was extended from an original deadline of Monday, 6 January 2020.)

Consultation documents

Related information

Submissions are public information

Any submission you make becomes public information. People can ask for copies of submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we must make the information available unless there is a good reason for withholding it. You can find those grounds in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA.

Tell us if you think there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission (such as commercial sensitivity or personal information). Any decision MPI makes to withhold information can, however, be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may require the information be released.


Background to the livestock export review

MPI wants to lead an open and transparent review that allows everyone to have their say and considers all interests.

The review will consider 4 options:

  • new regulations which could totally ban specific types of livestock exports
  • new regulations which could conditionally ban specific types of livestock exports
  • new regulations to further enhance the livestock export system
  • new measures to continue to improve the system that are generally within existing law.

Decisions on preferred policy options are expected to be made in early 2020.

This will give stakeholders clarity about the next steps, including the timeframe for any regulatory changes – if the review recommends them.

New regulations typically take between 12 and 18 months to come into force from the time a review process begins. Measures within existing law can come into force more quickly.

During the review process, any new application for the export of livestock will be considered against New Zealand's existing rules.

About the export trade in livestock – cattle, sheep, goats, and deer

The export of livestock:

  • is a source of income for our rural communities
  • has been an important part of our trading economy
  • is an important element of the trading relationship with some key partner countries.

Our cattle, sheep, goats, and deer are being exported as breeding stock to help develop the livestock industries in importing countries. A conditional ban on the export of cattle, sheep, goats and deer for slaughter was introduced in 2007.

Livestock from New Zealand are highly sought after for a number of reasons, including to:

  • improve the genetics of stock in importing countries
  • efficiently stock new dairy farm developments
  • meet international agricultural cooperation agreements
  • help developing countries to boost their food production.

Why review the export trade in livestock?

Animal welfare is important – to animals, to people, and to New Zealand.

MPI conducts a thorough pre-export certification process before the director-general of MPI grants any Animal Welfare Export Certificate.

While the review is underway, MPI has already moved to strengthen the existing export approval process and will continue to do so as necessary. MPI is now requiring exporters to:

  • provide information on the post-arrival management of the animals, including their final destination point and arrangement to transport them there, as a pre-condition of export 
  • report on the condition of the animals at 30 days after they arrive in the importing country.

People importing our high-value breeding stock into their countries are making a significant investment. It is in their interests to keep the animals in good condition after they arrive.

However, New Zealand does not have jurisdiction over the live animals it exports once they are unloaded into the importing country.

It's time to review New Zealand's livestock export rules to make sure they are the right ones to maintain our reputation for high standards of animal welfare.

The area is a complex one. The review will consider factors including:

  • animal welfare
  • the impacts on our rural communities and economy
  • New Zealand's international legal obligations, trade commitments, and trading relationships.
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