Farmer slams MPI for ‘extremely poor’ handling of M bovis outbreak

The AM Show 25/05/2018

A Waikato farmer has slammed MPI for their handling of a Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, which now has the Government grappling for a solution.

Stu Husband from Morrinsville told The AM Show "in [his] personal view" he thinks the cattle disease has "been managed extremely poorly by MPI".

I think it's time for a Royal bloody Commission.

"Three strikes and normally you're out. We've had PSA come into our kiwifruit industry, we've had velvet leaf from Italy from a known hot spot. Not to mention the myrtle rust that's come in to the Waikato.

"I think it's time for a review, in fact, I think it's time for a Royal bloody Commission."

On Monday, Cabinet will meet to decide whether it will aim for eradication or management of Mycoplasma bovis.

Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show it's still "incredibly hard to determine" how the disease will impact the country's wealth.

"It's serious in the sense that we don't know the long-term impact it could have on productivity for our agricultural industry," she said.

"Even those countries that have had bovis come in and then have lived with it, even then it's sketchy to try and determine the impact it's had. That's what has made some of the decision making quite difficult.

If the Government chooses eradication, another 60,000 cows could be culled. More than 22,000 have already been culled.

Mr Husband says farmers have received more confusion than communication, and he "doesn't have a clue" which farms in his region are affected - even in his capacity as a regional councillor.

"It's way too slow on getting information out. We don't know whether we're eradicating, or whether we're going to work with the disease, what the effects are on our young stock if it's going to wipe out half our young stock.

Mr Husband is urging people to remember the people behind the numbers.

"Our hearts are in this. Our complete hearts are in this, along with every famer in New Zealand. Everyone has a heart in this.

"I feel really, really sorry for the farms that are impacted."

Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and it's not a food safety risk.

It spreads fast within herds through cow-to-cow contact, and if the bacterium sheds from the cow it can survive in optimum conditions for 50 days. Disinfection kills it.

The disease came into the country through either imported cattle semen, second-hand equipment or vet medicine.

Watch the full interview with Stu Husband above.

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