Animal export industry 'still absorbing the blow' of live export ban

The animal export industry says it's still coming to terms with the Government's "frustrating" decision to ban live exports by sea.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced the move on Wednesday, saying it was necessary to protect the country's international image.

The ban will come into effect after a transition period of up to two years.

While the decision was welcomed by animal rights activists, industry groups have expressed surprise and frustration with the move.

David Hayman, spokesperson for Animal Genetics Trade Association (AGTA), said the sector was taken aback by the decision because it had worked with the Ministry for Primary Industries to make sure standards were of the highest quality.

"The industry is still absorbing the blow," Hayman told Magic Talk's Rural Today on Thursday.

"But at this point we plan to use the two years to keep pointing out the valuable role that the industry plays, both in terms of the economics and the leading role that we have in livestock breeding and agritech."

He said there was no justification for the ban on animal welfare grounds as "we are world-class in terms of how we export animals and we're very conscious of animal welfare".

The decision would also force the premature deaths of as many as 150,000 animals a year and remove half a billion dollars from the economy, he said.

"It's going to create a significant hole in the New Zealand economy in terms of export income."

Hayman also called into question O'Connor's comments regarding the ban's ability to enhance New Zealand's global image.

"I'm not sure how this is going to affect our reputation with our trading partners because they're all doing it."

Federated Farmers also called the ban "surprising" given "this sector operates to some of the highest animal welfare standards anywhere".