Cancelled contracts: The hidden consequence of Mycoplasma bovis

Rural Exchange 02/06/2018

One farmer believes he’d be better off if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

Southland farmer John Young was left out of pocket after losing a contract for 1,000 bull calves on the assumption that the calves could have M bovis.

''We'd be better off if we had it. We would know where we're at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we'd be compensated,'' Mr Young had told Rural Life on Thursday.

Ngai Tahu Farming cancelled its contract with Mr Young under the clause that said cattle should be in good health and free from injury or disease.

But Mr Young believes he had done his due diligence to guarantee the calves were free of the cattle disease, supplying Ngai Tahu with a National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) file of all animals.

“They’re saying that ‘we cannot prove that these animals are free from disease’,” he told Rural Exchange.

The contract cancellation came at a price for Mr Young, with the calves now being sold at a fluctuating market price.

“These calves that we are selling now – we’re not going to get nearly what we were contracted to get,” he said.

Southland farmer John Young.

That’s precisely why the Southland farmer entered into the contract with Ngai Tahu in the first place. Mr John told Rural Exchange that the contract guarantees certainty for their stock prices.

The contract, signed in August, was for 1000 calves with a price of $3kg liveweight. Ngai Tahu offered $10,000 for a settlement, but Mr Young maintained that legal costs far exceeded that number.

Mr Young then ran out of feed during legal proceedings, having expected to be free of the calves once the contract was fulfilled. They bought palm kernel while tearing into their winter feed storage.

Looking back on the experience, Mr John  told Rural Exchange that contracts need to be honoured.

“I think trust is a rare commodity at the moment in the farming industry,” he said. “I think everybody is just on tenderhooks.”

However, he said in hindsight he admitted that the couple should have had “more of a buffer” for unexpected circumstances.

Mr Young and his wife have a dairy farm near Browns and a run-off block in Northern Southland. This was the second year the couple had a contract to deliver bull calves to Ngai Tahu.

Watch the full interview with John Young above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.