‘We don’t want to get caught with our pants down’ – MPI on M. bovis

Rural Exchange 24/02/2018

The Government recently admitted that eradicating cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. Bovis), could New Zealand "hundreds of millions" of dollars.

The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed that the latest Southland outbreak was connected with the Zeestraten farms through movement of calves and was placed under movement restrictions several weeks ago.

MPI’s director of response David Yard joined Rural Exchange to discuss the reality of eradication for New Zealand.  

Mr Yard assured the team that eradication is still MPIs goal.

While MPI is designing plans for managing M. bovis, Mr Yard said the plans don’t indicate they have given up on eradication.

Bulk milk testing is currently underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland, an initiative which has been extended by MPI and its dairy partners.

Should the tests reveal that the disease is more widespread than expected, MPI will transition to a plan for managing with the disease.

We don’t want to get caught with our pants down.

MPI has encouraged farms to come forward regarding the disease by offering compensation for verifiable loss of income.

However, MPI has halted culling – and therefore stalling compensation to farms - until its milk surveillance programme is complete.

Mr Yard said that MPI has only received 50 compensation claims so far, and said they are dealing with farms experiencing financial hardship on “a case by case basis”.  

“There are checks and balances we have to go through,” he said. “This is public money that we are spending.”

Last week, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor spoke to Rural Exchange about how much the clean-up of the disease 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."

If the disease is more widespread than expected, the Minister said it will farmers to change the way they farm.

Listen to the full interview with David Yard above.

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