Govt decision on M. bovis cattle disease

Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation

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

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.

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

These are indeed large figures but they should be placed against the $8 billion economic contribution of the dairy industry, $2 billion from the beef industry, the country's reputation as a food producer and, perhaps most importantly, animal and farmer welfare.

They say it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and, if successful, would be the first time an infected country has eliminated Mycoplasma bovis.

"We all agree that while there remains a chance to get rid of this disease, we should take it", he said. Following depopulation and disinfection, farms will lie fallow for 60 days after which they can be restocked.

There are now 67 restricted properties.

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Farmer Chris Ford says he was very disappointed in the Government's decision.

An improved compensation claim process.

When asked about the possible success of attempting eradication, MPI director of readiness and response Geoff Gwyn said "I don't think there's any cast iron guarantee here".

"Now we have to crack on and give it our best shot to recover from this threat".

The government has said that it is taking the step to eradicate the danger of the infection spreading to farms of New Zealand. O'Connor also noted that only one strain of the disease has been identified and "we believe that's come from one source". "We are not there now". It is essential that the Government has accurate and up-to-date information to gauge whether it is working. The bulk of the work would take place in the next two years.

"After yesterday they're gone", Canterbury farmer Frank Peters told 1 NEWS as he stood amongst his soon to be culled livestock.

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