The decision to ban sow crates is a great leap forward for animal welfare—even though the ban won't be in place until 2016, the Green Party said today.
"Public opinion has forced the Government to ban sow crates, despite huge pressure from the Pork Industry Board to keep them indefinitely," Green Party Animal Welfare spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.
"The strength of the public's reaction against the television exposé last year—showing pigs locked in cages, chewing bars and looking demented, with festering sores on them—forced the Government's hand, and they had no alternative but to get rid of them."
Ms Kedgley, who has campaigned against sow crates for 10 years, said the announcement was a victory for animal welfare campaigners, and for every single New Zealander who had spoken up against cruel sow crates.
"Getting sows out of their cages will be the biggest improvement in animal welfare in recent times.
"A five year phase out is still too long, as pig farmers have had years to switch to more humane farming methods. But it sends a clear signal to pig farmers that they have no alternative than to get rid of their sow crates."
Ms Kedgley said it was wonderful to think that keeping sows in cages will become a thing of the past.
"Future generations will look back in wonder at why it was that we allowed these highly intelligent animals to be locked up in cages for so long."
Ms Kedgley said the challenge now was to ensure that once the ban was in place, no imported pork from caged pigs should be allowed into New Zealand.
"The government needs to make it illegal to sell any pork that comes from intensively raised farms using sow crates—whether the pork is sourced from overseas or from domestically raised pork.