South Canterbury rural consultant Sarah Barr says there is a huge degree of anxiety on the ground over the surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort.
The tracing procedures are difficult, the tests complex and prevention at this stage is not easy.
Neither the Prime Minister, the Minister of Agriculture, nor any MPI official or industry representative, at last week’s announcement of the eradication campaign, would put their hand on their heart and say the plan will succeed.
Their line was, “we think we have discovered it early in the piece so we need to have a shot at eradication” – rather than effectively doing nothing and just managing it as most countries do.
Eradication will see at least 150,000 animals slaughtered – possibly more – over two years and at least 192 properties will have their animals slaughtered with still no guarantee of success.
The $886 million cost will be shared between the Government and the industry, namely DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ who support the plan.
The Government will meet 68 % of the cost, and DNZ and BLNZ 32%. Money from these two industry organisations will come from a special biosecurity levy linked to their Government Industry Arrangement (GIA) on biosecurity.
Money from standard commodity levies that are used to fund DairyNZ and BLNZ cannot be used to fund biosecurity, so a special levy will be made, as approved by farmers in the GIA consultation process.
Rural News understands that the details of how this special levy will be collected and which organisation will pay what amount is still being worked out. However, it’s believed that in general the dairy industry will pay more by virtue of the fact that it has more cows than the beef sector.
It’s also believed that, in the first instance, the Government will pay the up-front cost of eradication. DairyNZ and B+LNZ will repay this over time on the basis that the levy collected from farmers will not be too big in the first two years of the eradication.