The Government has admitted work to eradicate the disease Mycoplasma bovis, or M. bovis, could cost "hundreds of millions" of dollars.
The disease, which affects dairy cattle, first appeared towards the end of 2017 in south Canterbury. Some farmers are now asking if it can even be done.
- M. bovis eradication ‘is still possible’ according to MPI
- Agriculture Minister calls M. bovis breakout ‘a wakeup call’
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor spoke to Rural Exchange on Saturday about the work being done to eradicate the disease, and how much the clean-up is expected to cost.
"We haven't put a figure on, but we do have enough money for operational purposes to date," Mr O'Connor said.
"We know the final figure will be a big lump sum to eradicate, but industry will have to stump up too, but don't know final figure."
The minister said if the disease gets out of control it will be a game-changer for the industry and force farmers to change the way they farm.
Mr O'Connor said time is running out to control the disease leading into the traditional day where sharemilkers transfer their cattle, known as 'Gypsy Day'.
New Zealand should not tolerate a second rate bio-security system.
Rural Exchange co-host Richard Loe stated in his opinion to Damian O'Connor that it was “brought in through greed' and it's time to tighten the borders as he believes palm kernal is the next major “ticking timebomb”.
Damian O'Connor acknowledged that New Zealand palm kernal imports have only increased despite dairy companies’ vision to reduce the cattle feed inputs from its suppliers.
"New Zealand should not tolerate a second rate bio-security system," said the Minister. He stated that a review of the bio-security Act is underway.
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Mr O’Connor said the Ministry of Primary Industries is putting more people on the ground, and anyone who has noticed anything suspicious should get in touch.
But Mark Bryan from Vet South later told Rural Exchange the disease effectively halts a farm's operation.
He explained the second cluster of properties affected by Mycoplasma bovis, known as Alfon's Zeestraten's farms, caught MPI by surprise.
He said the industry needs to get on top of the disease as soon as possible - up to 25 percent of calves in affected farms dying horrific deaths.
"Doesn't matter now where it's come from, it's here now and we need to put all resources into how to get on top of it not how it got here," he said.
In the interview, Dr Bryan provides veterinary advice on what farmers should be looking out for.
MPI says farmers who believe they have bought discarded milk for calf feed and-or calves and cows from any of the affected operations should contact them on 0800 80 99 66.
Listen to the full interviews with Damien O'Connor and Mark Bryan above.