Un­cer­tainty re­mains around Mbo­vis


‘‘If you are look­ing for cer­tainty, you’ll be dis­ap­pointed.’’

It was a prophetic warn­ing from Biose­cu­rity New Zealand di­rec­tor of re­sponse Ge­off Gwyn when he spoke to about 250 wor­ried Waikato farm­ers at­tend­ing a meet­ing on My­coplasma bo­vis in Mor­rinsville.

‘‘I know the de­sire for in­for­ma­tion is high,’’ he said.

Af­ter a brief update, the meet­ing was opened up for ques­tions, which ranged from biose­cu­rity and san­i­ta­tion of stock trucks and farm ma­chin­ery to com­pen­sa­tion and Nait.

Many of the ques­tions dur­ing the two-hour meet­ing were for ad­vice on how to keep their farms free of the dis­ease dur­ing calv­ing and calf rear­ing, buy­ing service bulls and the lo­gis­tics around bobby calf col­lec­tions.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, a group of farm­ers said it had done lit­tle to re-as­sure them, but recog­nised it was an un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion for the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries and they were do­ing all they could.

‘‘Def­i­nitely wor­ried. There are a lot of un­knowns,’’ one said.

There ap­peared to be a lack of prac­ti­cal knowl­edge among the MPI of­fi­cials about the day to day re­al­i­ties of farm­ing.

‘‘There were a quite a few ques­tions that they were scratch­ing their heads,’’ an­other said.

It was the first of two meet­ings held in Waikato on June 8. A sec­ond meet­ing was held in the af­ter­noon in Te Awa­mutu.

The meet­ings were de­signed to pro­vide prac­ti­cal steps for farm­ers to re­duce the risk of get­ting Mbo­vis.

Gwyn be­lieved they were mak­ing progress in erad­i­cat­ing the dis­ease af­ter sim­pli­fy­ing their process once a farm was placed un­der a no­tice of di­rec­tion.

This had helped the num­ber of prop­er­ties un­der a no­tice of di­rec­tion from 287 to 136.

‘‘What it is al­low­ing us to do is very quickly de­ter­mine dis­ease sta­tus. We’re only ever one find away from be­ing in the crap, but at the mo­ment we seem to be win­ning the bat­tle.

‘‘We have a hell of a job ahead of us and it is a team game. The re­al­ity is we can’t do it on our own, you can’t do it on our own. We need to help each other.’’

There were 70 farms un­der a re­stricted place no­tice since the dis­ease was found, but 15 had been re­voked, 36 farms seen as in­fected prop­er­ties with eight be­ing re­voked.

Culling had taken place on 27 farms, with 24,500 an­i­mals sent to slaugh­ter.

Gywn guar­an­teed more herds would be found to have the dis­ease, ‘‘but hope­fully it’s not too many’’.

Three prop­er­ties in Waikato were un­der a re­stricted place no­tice and one con­firmed as in­fected. At the time of the meet­ing, an­i­mals were be­ing moved off that in­fected farm for slaugh­ter.


Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Damien O’Con­nor speaks to Mor­rinsville farm­ers at a meet­ing on how to re­duce their risk of catch­ing the dis­ease.

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