The New Zealand Herald

Compo for herd disease slow coming says farmer

- — BusinessDe­sk

Aad Van Leeuwen is still waiting for compensati­on from the Ministry for Primary Industries more than nine months after he reported the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in his South Canterbury herds.

“There was an advance made a couple of months ago covering barely 20 per cent of all the stock but the remaining more than 80 per cent has not arrived yet and there are continuous questions coming [from MPI] that have all been answered,” the owner of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group told BusinessDe­sk. Compensati­on for the stock alone is around $3 million and doesn’t include milk loss, he said.

MPI estimates the outbreak could cost about $95m in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensati­on to farmers.

According to Van Leeuwen, dealing with MPI is like dealing with “a big, slow machine” and while “under

Under the compensati­on act you are never supposed to be worse off, I can tell you we are a damn sight worse off. Dairy farmer Aad Van Leeuwen

the compensati­on act you are never supposed to be worse off, I can tell you we are a damn sight worse off”.

He first reported the outbreak in July last year but said the bacterial cattle disease didn’t originate on his farms. The incurable disease — which has been present in many other markets for decades — poses no food safety risk but can hit cattle hard causing udder infection, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. MPI initially culled around 4800 cattle on seven farms — the majority belonging to Van Leeuwen — but then halted the culling to carry out extensive testing.

The latest data from MPI show 28 infected properties across the country. Last week it ordered the culling of all cattle on those properties — 22,300 animals — to control the spread of the disease.

Van Leeuwen, who owns the company with his wife, said their herd was now clean and he was fighting to get “restricted place notices” removed as they were hampering his operation.

The notice “prohibits all unauthoris­ed movements of farm stock and other risk goods on to and off the property” and requires a permit for any movement of cattle, according to MPI.

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