Cow disease compo beats US lawsuit
But in fairness to farmers, Nait has not been exactly userfriendly so that has not encouraged farmer engagement. The recent Nait review was long overdue.
What farmers are going to need now is some surety of response, and perhaps more particularly how that response will be directed.
Until now the focus of MPI has been containment and a push for eradication to try and return the nation to its previous M. bovis-free status.
Now that I’ve seen the response maps I wonder if this is still a possibility. Perhaps we need to consider a longer-term eradication policy or even a management regime otherwise we risk tremendous loss of animal life and stress for farming families affected.
I would envisage a Tb type of policy where the infected animals would be culled, but the specific herd be placed on movement control and monitored until the appropriate tests are shown to be clear over time as M. bovis is notoriously hard to detect consistently.
Where a farmer is adversely affected compensation needs to be paid promptly, not three or six months down the line as these people and families are operating businesses, and no business can remain viable with no cashflow for that period.
Legislation states that no individual or business should be better or worse off because of MPI’s use of its biosecurity powers (including Infected herds and cost of movement controls etc), but it is clear to me that these affected farmers are so far much worse off considering the stress and personal upheavals that they are going through.
And to all those media commentators who reckon that the taxpayer shouldn’t be ‘bailing out’ the farmers, just be grateful that we don’t live in America, the land of the law suit.
Farmers have every right to expect our biosecurity to protect our industry from these types of incursions and quite simply the system has failed them and is now currently in the process of destroying their livelihoods while inflicting a huge emotional and social toll on them.
That’s probably a perfect definition of a class action lawsuit if I’ve ever heard of one.
So, we need better and more accessible information around M. bovis, and we need someone to make the decision as to how we deal with this longer term.
My personal view is that entire herd eradication is too expensive, and while we don’t want it in the country as an industry, the rest of the world has it already and seems to manage it appropriately.
My thoughts are that our herds may take a bit of a hit but then the impact would be like Johne’s disease. Who remembers theileria?
But farmers will need to change their behaviour on recording stock movements, how we graze off-farm and even how we feed surplus or penicillin milk to calves.
However, as farmers we are nothing if not adaptable and given the right information and options. we can get through this.
Andrew McGiven is the president of Federated Farmers Waikato.
The MPI and farming leaders held a meeting near Cambridge on May 25.