M bovis ‘a steep learning curve’ for everyone involved – Damien O’Connor

Rural Exchange 26/05/2018

The Government is set to announce its plan for dealing with Mycoplasma bovis on Monday, with farmers across the country wondering whether it will push forward with eradication efforts or move on to managing the disease.

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

The most recent Waikato outbreak has caused some farmers to call out the Government for their inefficient response.

A Waikato farmer from Morrinsville told The AM Show that he thinks the cattle disease has "been managed extremely poorly by MPI".

We don’t want to repeat this, I can tell you that.

While the exact value of funding for combatting the disease has yet to be confirmed, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said funding will come from a partnership between industry and the Government.”

“From a Government’s perspective, we’ve always been mindful. We’ve got to front up here and we’ve got to fund what is the best thing for New Zealand,” Mr O’Connor said.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the farmers who were the first to have M bovis confirmed are now living in a caravan in Australia. Mary and Sarel Potgieter say they were promised compensation for their culled cattle but went out of business before the money arrived.

Mr O’Connor said the Potgieter family’s story was “disturbing” but maintained that it was “a very complex farming operation” with “very complex compensation applications”.

“A lot of unfortunate people working on the farm – share milkers, contract milkers – have suffered quite a bit. I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just saying it’s been a steep learning curve for everyone involved.”

The Agriculture Minister reiterated that everyone involved in eradication and compensation has ramped up their efforts since the first outbreak of the disease.

“We don’t want to repeat this, I can tell you that.”

Mr O’Connor told Rural Exchange that he wants to see more investment in better tests for the disease, which he believes many other countries have given up on.

“We’ve got to try to identify the individual animals who are spreading the disease within the herd. And then we might get to the point where we don’t have to cull the whole herd.”

Watch the full interview with Damien O'Connor above.

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