Early signs look good for Mycoplasma bovis eradication - farmer

The AM Show 09/10/2018

A farmer says the Mycoplasma Bovis eradication is going slowly, but the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is learning on its feet and has improved management of the disease.

MPI has so far ordered the destruction of over 43,000 cows to eradicate the disease.

Federated Farmers dairy representative Chris Lewis says such a high number may not have been necessary, but MPI has pared back the number being killed four months after the decision to eradicate.

"I'm not the animal expert on this, we've seen a lot of footage on it so I think they're getting to be a lot smarter on it now," Mr Lewis said.

"They're killing part herds to see whether they've actually got the disease before they cull the whole herd.

"If they'd done that six months ago they might have saved a lot more animals, but those are the learnings and they seem to be learning quick on that."

Mr Lewis said he thinks New Zealand will be successful in eradicating the disease, in part through luck.

"I reckon we will [beat the disease], a lot of it by sheer luck, some of it by management, but I think after a couple of years I think we could," he said.

"The early signs look like we will."

But there are some clear areas where MPI is struggling and there needs to be work done around that, especially supporting farmers affected by the disease.

"There's still the same frustrations that [farmers] had six months ago so that's frustrating to hear," Mr Lewis said.

"The operations don't go hand in hand with farmer support, often the MPI team will go onto the farm to make some decisions and three weeks later a team goes in to pick up the pieces for the farmers and help them out."

A lot of farmer support has been coming from volunteers, which Mr Lewis gave credit to for their hard work.

He also had praise for biosecurity minister Damien O'Connor after his performance managing the disease.

"[Mr O'Connor] has turned up to a lot of farmer meetings when there's been a bit of strife or stress, they've asked him to come along and he's turned up," he said.

Watch the full interview with Chris Lewis above.

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