Following a Finance Ministry decision to eliminate import taxes on live calves and veal products from abroad, animal rights activists argued that the move would encourage increased animal abuse.
A team focused on lowering the prices of meat and dairy products, chaired by Finance Ministry director- general Yael Andorn, decided on Wednesday to nix import taxes entirely on live calves, to significantly reduce them for fresh meat and lower them for hard cheeses, yogurts and creams – about 20 percent of dairy products.
Eliminating and reducing these tariffs will increase competition in the relevant markets, which are plagued by high prices in comparison to those around the world, the Finance Ministry said.
Although expressing opposition to the entire plan, members of the group Anonymous for Animal Rights particularly disputed the team’s determination to eliminate taxes on calves and veal. Doing so, the organization argues, will only encourage animal abuse.
The tax elimination applies to all imports of calves, including those weighing more than 250 kg., as well as 5,700 tons of fresh packaged meat.
“This is acute abuse of animals, publicly financed by tens of millions of shekels,” a statement from Anonymous for Animal Rights said. “The import of live calves on ships that travel for many weeks is one of the forms of severe abuse in the meat industry.”
Citing data provided by the Australian Department of Agriculture, the organization said that in 2013 alone, 14,897 animals have died aboard ships headed from Australia to Asia and the Middle East. The main export destination of Australian animal meat is Indonesia, followed by Israel, according to Anonymous.
Israel annually imports more than 100,000 calves and sheep from Australia, the organization explained.
“The decision to eliminate the import taxes will bring an increase in imports, and a worsening in the abuse of the calves,” the Anonymous statement said. “It is unfortunate that the Israeli government is promoting meat consumption, while advanced countries around the world are encouraging a reduction in meat consumption.”