It seems the government is close to making a decision on the future of livestock exports. It’s nearly two years since a review of the trade was launched and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says now that the MPI has provided its final advice to him, a paper is out for consultation with Cabinet colleagues and a decision will be made in the next month or two. He says its a complex issue which needed careful consideration. In September last year MPI temporarily suspended live animal exports, after the Gulf Livestock 1 sank with 43 crew members, including two New Zealanders, and almost 6000 cattle on board. Michael Heron QC, conducted a review and exports resumed with tighter controls. Animal advocacy group SAFE is pushing for a total ban on livestock exports and Campaigns manager Bianka Atlas says the government’s response has been too slow. She says not only were live exports continuing, but there had been a dramatic increase in the number of cattle being sent overseas. Figures from MPI show almost 110,000 cows were exported to China in the last year, compared to 39,000 in 2019 and 14,000 in 2018. SAFE says the increase was deeply concerning, especially in the context of an ongoing review.