Taking the ”one shot” to M bovis eradication

Government and farming industry leaders announced today an additional 126,000 cattle from 190 farms would be culled in a world-first attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor, and leaders from farming groups said they had one opportunity to eradicate the bovine disease from New Zealand and were going to take it.

Government and industry will spend a projected $886 million over the next 10 years in the eradication attempt, most of which ($870 million), will go towards the cost of the response including compensation to farmers.

It is expected that most of the eradication work will take place in the next one to two years.

Ms Ardern said the cost of not acting was estimated to cost $1.3 billion in productivity losses over the next 10 years.

She said it was in New Zealand's national interest to be free of the disease, seeing that the social and economic impacts of M bovis in other countries were too large to ignore. However she and Mr O'Connor said it was a tough decision to make.

"This is a tough call – no-one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd. We have a real chance of eradication to protect our more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms, but only if we act now.

"Today’s decision will provide some certainty, but at the same time will be terribly painful for those farmers who are directly affected. Both Government and our industry partners want those farmers to know support is there for them."

Calls were made to people to support those affected farmers in such a difficult time.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said the pain and anguish of the disease was "really hideous" and it was key that the compensation system offered compensation quickly and easily.

Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup said the important part was the people, and any eradication programme was stressful.

"It's important that all farmers support those that are affected by no fault of their own because those farmers are taking a hit on behalf of all farmers."

Mr O'Connor said MPI would continue to speed up the compensation process. MPI says a substantial part of a farmer’s claim for culled cows should now take four to 10 days, with a fully verified claim taking two to three weeks.

Eradication will involve:

• Culling all cattle on all infected properties along with cattle on most restricted properties
• All infected farms found in future will also be depopulated
• Following depopulation, farms are disinfected and will lie fallow for 60 days after which they can be restocked
• Intensive active surveillance, including testing and tracing, will continue to detect infected herds
• There will be some flexibility for farmers in the timing of culling to offset production losses
• An improved compensation claim process. MPI says a substantial part of a farmer’s claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a fully verified claim taking 2-3 weeks.


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