Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape

 25 February, 2020

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down.

“We’ve had restrictions on the firearms that farmers can use to keep down numbers of rabbits, wallabies and deer. We don’t want to see hiked audit fees and stiffer compliance as another hurdle driving people out of the pest control industry,” Miles said.

“Farmers and the environment benefit from processing plants like this because contractors generally come out on farms for night shooting of rabbits at no charge to the property owner.

“The end result is a useful and saleable product.  That’s much better than a shot pest animal being left to rot in a field.”  

Smaller-scale rural butchers supplying meat for sale also face rising costs from compliance.

“It’s time the people who bog the productive sector down in this sort of red tape considered more closely the downsides,”  Miles said.