Dairy farmers in New Zealand have hit back at animal rights campaigners about a UK newspaper advert criticising the industry.
DairyNZ, the industry organisation that represents New Zealand dairy farmers, branded the advertisement by SAFE as 'alarmist’.
SAFE said it placed the advert to raise awareness internationally of what it says is the mistreatment of young calves after film footage emerged which it said showed the cruel treatment of the animals.
SAFE said 95 per cent of New Zealand dairy was consumed overseas and that an international audience could help demand an end to the abuse of dairy calves, and placed an advert in The Guardian in the UK calling on consumers to take action.
However, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the advertisement was a “sign of bad faith” towards the dairy industry and New Zealanders.
“We’re extremely disappointed SAFE has chosen to advertise internationally, it’s totally unnecessary,” he said. “We know the mistreatment of calves is not widespread but there are issues we need to resolve and we’re working collaboratively to do that. Action has been taken and yet SAFE still went ahead with these alarmist adverts.”
DairyNZ said it had joined the Ministry for Primary Industries and six other industry associations to eradicate the mistreatment of bobby calves – young calves separated from their mothers.
“We’re committed to working with everyone in the supply chain to ensure bobby calves are well cared for,” said Mackle. “Resolving these issues will depend not on words, but on actions.”
SAFE is calling on the government to take action to stop animal abuse, including separating animal welfare from the Ministry for Primary Industries to avoid a conflict of interest, and allocating sufficient funding to animal welfare.
In a statement, SAFE said it would not expand its international advertising yet but that “international pressure will resume if the plight of the animals is ignored”.