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Farmers back stock theft bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/06/2017

© JOSEPH AGCAOILI/AFP/Getty Images Farmers want stiffer penalties for stock theft and they're throwing their support behind a member's bill that will make it an aggravating factor at sentencing.

National's Ian McKelvie drafted the bill and it's been drawn from the ballot for a first reading.

As he's a government MP it will almost certainly become law.

The bill says rustling has recently become much more prevalent and it's costing farmers $120 million a year.

Federated Farmers says passing the bill will show the justice system is taking stock theft crimes seriously.

The federation's rural security spokesman, Rick Powdrell, says rustling isn't only a financial burden.

"It's a risk to people's safety," he said.

"Farmers are often alone when confronting stock thieves, it's frightening when you are faced with someone in a remote rural area who is most likely armed."

Mr Powdrell says the federation would like to see rustlers lose their vehicles and equipment, as happens with fisheries prosecutions.

The bill could come up for its first reading before the end of the month.

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