Animal Policy International is a new organisation launched through the Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program focused on ensuring that animal welfare standards are upheld in international trade policy.
There are significant differences between farmed animal welfare standards across the globe, with billions of animals still confined in factory farms. Even those regions with higher standards like the EU, the UK, Switzerland and New Zealand tend to import a significant portion of their animal products from countries where animals experience significant suffering due to lack of protective measures.
The higher welfare countries can apply their standards to imported animal products by restricting the access of low-welfare animal products that would have been illegal to produce domestically. This can incentivise farmers elsewhere to increase their standards to keep existing supply chains.
A law restricting the importation of low-welfare products provides a unique win-win opportunity for both animal advocates and farmers in higher welfare countries, especially in our likely first country of operation: New Zealand. Some farmers are facing tough competition from low-priced low-welfare imports and demand more equal standards between imports and local produce after New Zealand’s decision to phase out farrowing crates on local pig farms by December 2025.
A law passed in New Zealand restricting the importation of animal products that do not adhere to local standards could save approximately 8 million fish per year from suffering poor living conditions, transportation, and slaughter practices; spare 330,000 pigs from cruel farrowing crates and 380,000 chickens from inhumane living conditions.
Differences in animal welfare standards: New Zealand
Below is an outline of differences between animal welfare standards in New Zealand and its main importers of particular animals.
- Fish: In China, Vietnam and Thailand (total 79% of imports in 2020) there is no legislation for fish meaning they may endure slow, painful deaths by asphyxiation, crushing, or even being gutted alive. New Zealand outlines some protections for fish at the time of killing and during transport.
- Hens: 80% of eggs imported into New Zealand come from China where hens are allowed to be kept in battery cages. Battery cages are illegal in New Zealand from 2023. (Colony (enriched) cages are still used).
- Pigs: The US, an importer of pork to New Zealand, has no federal ban on the use of sow stalls or farrowing crates, leading to sows being cruelly confined to narrow cages where they cannot perform basic behaviours, turn around, or properly mother their piglets. New Zealand has banned sow stalls, and farrowing crates are being phased out by 2025.
- Sheep: Australia, which imports wool products to New Zealand, allows several practices that are prohibited in New Zealand, including the extremely cruel practice of mulesing, which involves removing parts of the skin from live sheep without anaesthetic.
- Establishing connections with potential partner NGOs and industry
- Producing a policy brief
- Conducting public polling
- Addressing the question of legality of import restrictions
- Meeting policymakers
- Will farmers in low-welfare countries be motivated and capable of increasing their animal welfare standards?
- What enforcement mechanisms should be used?
- How would a restriction on importation affect the country’s relationships with its trade partners?
- What externalities (e.g. changes in animal product prices) would such a trade law have?
How you can help
- Expertise: if you have experience/knowledge in international trade, policy work, WTO laws and can help answer the open questions stated above then please reach out.
- Hires: we are looking to hire a part-time well-connected expert in New Zealand in the next few months. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
- Funding: we received funding of $110,000 from Charity Entrepreneurship’s seed network after completing the incubation program in April. This will allow us to operate for 9 to 10 months. We are happy to connect with funders interested in helping animals through policy for potential future collaborations.
- Partnerships: we are looking to cooperate with other NGOs working on animal policy to share experience and enhance collective learning.
- Volunteers: we are considering having volunteer(s) in research or who are knowledgeable in trade law, and international and New Zealand politics. If you feel like some of this resonates with you or feel that you could contribute in some other way then please reach out.
- Feedback: we appreciate any feedback you might have on our organisation’s work, especially at this early stage. Please feel free to post any feedback in the comments or send to us directly. If you have very specific questions then please reach out to us through our website contact form.
We will be attending EAG London. Come listen to our Lightning talk on Saturday, May 20, and join the office hours if you are interested in discussing further details.
Animal Policy International was founded in April 2023 after completing Charity Entrepreneurship’s Incubation Program and receiving a seed grant. Our current team members are co-founders and Co-Executive Directors Mandy Carter & Rainer Kravets.