Tuesday, 13 July 2021 13:55

MPI admits to blunders early on in eradication programme

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Programme head Stuart Anderson says, since 2019, MPI has worked hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis. Programme head Stuart Anderson says, since 2019, MPI has worked hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis.

The head of the Mycoplasma Bovis programme, Stuart Anderson, admits things were hard on farmers in the early days.

However, he claims, since a reset of the programme in 2019, big improvements have been made.

"We acknowledge that the experience farmers went through in the early days was hard on them," Anderson told Rural News. "But we have learned a lot and the programme is completely different today."

M. bovis was first detected on a farm south of Timaru in July 2017. Since then, beef and dairy farmers have had to cull over 172,000 animals.

While the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has paid out $207 million in compensation, some farmers are still negotiating a payout.

Anderson says since 2019, MPI has worked really hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis.

He claims that since 2019, compensation is getting paid more quickly. In May 2021, it took on average 12 working days to pay a non-complex claim, in comparison to an average of 37 working days two years ago.

Anderson also claims that testing is quicker and that MPI has brought the wait-time down on test results to on average 14 days or less.

"And we work closer on the ground, supporting affected farmers, their whanau and workers," he says.

"We will continue to work with our partners, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to make improvements where required.

"We know the eradication effort has been challenging to the farmers involved and even when the process goes as intended, it is tough for those affected."

Commenting on a recent University of Otago survey of M. bovis-affected farmers, Anderson says the study authors have not provided a completed report of their work to MPI.

"This is disappointing. When they do, we will be keen to look at it," he adds.

The survey gound that a poorly managed government response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting trauma on Otago and Southland farmers whose stock were culled.

Farmers from Canterbury contacted Rural News last week, claiming they had a similar experience with MPI.

Lifestyle block owner Robin Wilson says 15 calves were taken from his property by MPI for culling and he is still awaiting compensation.

"The amount MPI offered to me as compensation is too low," he says.

Wilson says he tried unsuccessfully many times to speak to M. bovis managers in Wellington.

"I even approached the Agriculture Minister once, but he did nothing. It all seems in the too-hard basket for them" Wilson says.

M. bovis by the numbers

  • As of July 2, 2021, MPI had received 2,903 claims from 1,174 claimants.</li
  • 97% of all compensation claims have been resolved.
  • Total compensation paid $207 million:
    • Beef farmers paid nearly $50 million or 24% of total compensation paid.
  • Dairy farmers nearly $130 million (63%).
  • Others (grazing, calf rearing, lifestyle farmers) $28m (13%0.
  • The total estimated cost over 10 years to eradicate M. bovis is $870 million. Government funding 68% or $591m, Beef + Lamb New Zealand 2% or $17.4m and Dairy NZ 30% or $262m.
  • Over 172,000 animals culled to date

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