Plan to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis announced

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor speaks with Southland Rural Support Trust chairman John Kennedy

A new report pointed out that New Zealand would walk up a step to eradicate the disease Mycoplasma Bovis by slaughtering near about hundred thousand cows.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she believes it's still possible to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis. The cost of attempting to eradicate this bacterial infection, which only affects cattle, is also staggering with the estimate now $886 million.

Government will meet 68 per cent of this cost and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 per cent.

So far, 38 farms have been affected by the cow disease.

All decision-makers acknowledge that eradication of Mycoplasma bovis - which is possible because it is not widespread, infected properties are all connected through animal movements and there is just one strain of the disease out there - will be challenging and require collaboration. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

Ms Ardern said the decision was made "to protect our national herd and the longterm productivity of our economic decision". About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really ugly", she said of the affected farmers. The country is the world's largest exporter of milk and dairy products.

USA delegation in N Korea to prepare for summit with Kim
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"But, as we see in droughts as well, we will get people [who] will suffer a disproportionate impact because they will be the ones who will have all the cash-flow pressure arising from having their stock culled, waiting for compensation, and then having to rebuild their herds", he said.

"And we have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends".

It was going to be a long process and the only way the farming sector would get through it was if it was united in the fight, whether caught up in the process or not, she said.

Ashburton dairy farmer John Jefferson, who farms 560 cows in the hot zone where numerous 37 infected properties are located, was "a little surprised" and thought the decision-makers could be in for disappointment. Of those, 37 are active infected properties.

Cabinet's decision has the support of Federated Farmers and the NZ Veterinary Association, although the former is well aware of the emotional and psychological effect on farmers.

- An improved compensation claim process.

The alternative option was for long-term management. Of this, $698 million is the loss of production borne by farmers and $520 million of response costs.

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