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There were 70 farms under a restricted place notice since the disease was found, but 15 had been revoked, 36 farms seen as infected properties with eight being revoked.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