Government announces "phased eradication" of M. bovis by Thomas Coughlan

31 May, 2018, 22:12 | Author: Rosalie Gross
  • The disease has now been traced to the Southland farm of Alfons Zeestraten at least back to December 2015. MPI says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is announcing the government's decision at Federated Farmers' headquarters in Wellington. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls".

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ.

Already present in the U.S. and Europe, it has never been successfully eradicated before.

Farming is a major part of New Zealand's economy and the country is the world's largest exporter of dairy.

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far, but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull. "So if we have an opportunity to be the country that eradicates this disease, then we'll take it".

"It won't work without farmer support". These include maintaining up-to-date NAIT movement records, understanding herd health history, and using good on-farm biosecurity measures. Improvements to the system are underway to make this easier to do in future.

"I've also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they've developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days". If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Nor will M bovis be restricted to dairy herds since many beef farmers source animals from dairy herds.

It was hard to diagnose and control and Mr O'Connor cautioned it was possible at some stage "we may have to let the fight go and learn to manage it in our herds". "The majority of animals that we do cull in New Zealand are all healthy", said Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

O'Connor said it was important all farmers showed a collective responsibility for the sake of the wider sector and get on board with the eradication plan.

Government forecasts estimate if the disease was allowed to spread unchecked, it would cost the industry NZ$1.3bn in lost production in 10 years.

Of the total cost, $16 million is attributed to the loss of production and borne by farmers while $870 million is the cost of the response, including compensation. According to AP, officials indicated they won't be able to tell until the end of the year whether the mass cow killing plan will work.

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