Tuesday, 05 June 2018 10:47

Will Mycoplasma bovis eradication fly?

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Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with PM Jacinda Ardern at the M. bovis announcement in Wellington last week. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with PM Jacinda Ardern at the M. bovis announcement in Wellington last week.

Opinion is divided on the Mycoplasma bovis decision in favour of phased eradication.

However, overall the feeling seems to be that New Zealand has right now the best-ever -- and only -- opportunity to eradicate the disease.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor obviously supports the decision. He has had a tough few weeks with endless meetings all weighing the pros and cons of eradication.

“With all the support we have had from the farming sector, I think we can beat this disease and have a far better farming system into the future,” he told Rural News.

O’Connor says within the farming sector there is now a better appreciation of the need for NAIT and tracking and tracing. He believes farmers will be far more reluctant to buy an animal from somewhere they don’t know and they will do their own tracking and tracing. 

In regards to NAIT, O’Connor says the review of it was comprehensive and the process of implementing 23 of 33 recommendations is well underway.

“We are having a look at structure and making sure it’s fit-for-purpose,” he said. 

He says M. bovis won’t be the end of sharemilking, but he believes people will be more careful when buying stock. 

National’s agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy also supports the Government plan to attempt to eradicate M. bovis. 

He says it is going to be very hard on farming families seeing their livestock culled, but agrees there is a narrow time window to try to eradicate the disease.

“I want to work constructively now on solutions going forward,” Guy says. “This is big for the cattle industries, but the fact that the industry and Government have come together on cost sharing is a good one. We need to get on and eradicate M. bovis.”

Guy says he also feels for sharemilkers and believes that many 50/50 sharemilkers will stay a bit longer on farms until the disease is sorted out.

Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard -- a dairy farmer in Manawatu -- also supports the plan to try to eradicate M. bovis.

“We should always take that opportunity; to live with disease would mean big changes and big risks as well.

“I heard about an English farmer who battled away against M. bovis for two years and it cost him over a million pounds and in the end he had to cull all his stock and depopulate,” he says.

Both the DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and BLNZ chair Andrew Morrison have voiced their support for the Government decision. 

Van der Poel says the organisation is working on ways to make sure M. bovis is eradicated and is also promoting the use of NAIT.

“It’ll be really important now that collectively people follow through on NAIT. Farmers now certainly understand it’s very important,” he says. 

“Where people transact stock between themselves is where the NAIT records are not good, but in terms of official supply chains the NAIT records are very good.” 

Morrison says it’s important that government and industry are working together. He says the challenge now is the action on the ground to deal with the disease. He says as a Southland farmer he’s well aware of the impact of the disease on farmers and their families.

“It is a stressful time for farmers, especially those whose farms are infected or under movement control. However, there is only a limited window in which to attempt eradication.”

 

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