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David Clark has rubbished fierce criticism from an environmentalist who has accused the Five Star Beef feedlot of animal cruelty in a series of social media posts recently.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed its animal welfare inspectors are conducting an investigation at the ANZCO-owned Five Star Beef feedlot this week after receiving a complaint.
Environmentalist Geoff Reid posted several aerial photos of the feedlot on his Facebook and Instagram channels, condemning the operation.
He claims the photos were taken three months ago by a concerned resident and that he had shared the photos during his presentation at the Environmental Defence Society conference in July this year.
"Who is doing the most harm here - a citizen showing what is really going on under our noses, or this cruel and disgusting farm," he said.
Reid later had a crack at Agricultural Minister Damien O'Connor in another Facebook post and said MPI did not have an adequate animal welfare inspectorate to address "large-scale issues" happening in New Zealand.
The footage appears to have been taken about a month after an historic flood battered the Ashburton district.
Clark dismissed Reid's accusations.
"Nothing will make him happy until the last farmed animal walks off the coast of New Zealand," he said.
"I have absolute confidence in the management of Five Star feedlot and it's importance to the Mid Canterbury economy. Their animal health and environmental practices are world leading."
Reid has more than 22,000 followers on his Instagram account with his posts sparking angry responses.
"It is in Five Star Beef’s commercial interests to take the best care possible of the cattle," a spokeswoman said.
"All cattle have good access to fresh water and are inspected regularly throughout the day and night. The feed-intake of the cattle is monitored daily to ensure they are eating properly."
- By Adam Burns
Local Democracy Reporter