Farmers will need support
Farmers affected by the Government’s new eradication plan to tackle the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis will need to be supported in what will be a harrowing time for them and their families. The warning comes as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week a further 126,000 cattle would be destroyed in a effort to rid the disease fromNew Zealand.
The Prime Minister said it was a tough decision to eradicate M. bovis in what would be aworld-first attempt. “I empathise fully with those farmers going through the pain of losing their herds.”
The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.
Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterium that causes udder infections (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia and arthritis in cattle.
It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said as a former sharemilker and farmer he could relate to the “terrible situation facing anyone who has to cull their herd”.
“It’s really tough on the families who are directly in the firing line of this terrible disease. It’s up to us to work together and support them.”
Federated Farmers president Katie Milne called it an “excruciating experience”.
“We’re going to wrap some really good support around our farmers who are going to go through this. This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they’re going to go through is really hideous and we have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends and so on.”
RuralWomenNewZealand president Fiona Gower said her organisation was ready to support those affected, especially women and children. “We are committed to ensuring there are wraparound welfare support for those affected because we understand that without this, high levels of stress in times of any crisis and in the aftermath can lead to a breakdown in our rural social fabric.
“The last thingwe need is the bullying of our children, an increase in family violence or even suicide,” she said.
DairyNZ said it stood with the Government in support of the decision to try to eradicate the cattle disease.
“We know that moving towards eradication will be a devastating decision for some, and will mean that thousands of animals will have to be culled,” said DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel.
MsArdern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it— $886 million. “We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together. WewantNewZealand to be free of it.”
She saidNewZealand had some factors that made it possible for it to be the only country to ever eradicate the disease— itwas early in the outbreak, NewZealand had natural borders, and there was only one strain identified so far.
The Government will meet 68 per cent of the cost and DairyNZ and Beef and LambNewZealand 32 per cent. Following depopulation, cattle will be disinfected and lie fallow for 60 days after which they can be restocked.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Bio-Security Minister Damien O’Connor announcing the phased eradication plan for Mycoplasma bovis last week.