Govt decision on M. bovis cattle disease

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10

The government has said that it is taking the step to eradicate the danger of the infection spreading to farms of New Zealand. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

"Speaking with affected farmers in recent weeks it is obvious that this has taken a toll, but standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers".

"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 decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect national livestock from the disease and protect the basis of the economy, the livestock sector", said Jacinda Ardern.

The slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, or buried on farms or in landfill.

"Today we have that certainty", van der Poel said.

Already present in the United States and Europe, it has never been successfully eradicated before.

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products. Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year.

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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. It's the only chance we'll get.

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. Improvements to the system are underway to make this easier to do in future. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services. For this reason, it is possible that at some stage we may have to let the fight go and learn to manage it in our herds.

There was a set of reassessment measures that, if met, would prompt a re-evaluation of the plan.

The disease causes a painful and untreatable illness in cattle and Damien O'Connor, agriculture and biosecurity minister, says there's only one shot to eradicate it.

Importantly, the government promises to improve the compensation claim process.

The Government chose today the option of phased eradication to attempt to combat the cow disease Mycoplasma bovis, at a cost of $886 million over the next decade.

It does not pose a food safety risk or humans but does cause significant production losses. We expect to do most of the eradication work in 1-2 years.

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