Monday, 10 December, 2018

New Zealand to kill 150K cows to end bacterial disease

Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation JOHN BISSET STUFF Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation
Sherry Houston | 31 May, 2018, 22:15

New Zealand will slaughter more than 100,000 cows in an effort to eradicate a bacterial disease.

Announcing the largest cull in the nation's history yesterday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said that while she sympathised with farmers, the government had "one shot" at eliminating the disease. The two-year cull will cost about £460 million.

Government will meet 68 per cent of this cost and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 per cent. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost. Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year. A $16m "loss of production" cost will be borne by affected farmers.

Murray Jagger who operates a 650-dairy cow and 250 dairy/beef enterprise at Whangarei Heads says, "the spread of M bovis is bordering on a national disaster and it is really important to the industry this option is pursued". In cattle, casualties are recorded due to the respiratory diseases triggered by this bacterium which is responsible for a third of all the respiratory infections in cattle.

"We all agree that while there remains a chance to get rid of this disease, we should take it", he said.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", she said.

The main aim of this culling project is to protect the New Zealand economy, with milk being the countries single largest export.

"At the same time, we must also focus on the thousands of farmers and millions of dairy cows that have not been affected by M. bovis".

Arden herself said she empathizes with the farmers who will have to undergo having all their cows slaughtered, but the government and cattle industry are in agreement that the long-term consequences of letting the disease spread far outweighs any incurred losses with the eradication plan. Both Government and our industry partners want those farmers to know support is there for them.

Currently, the disease is classified as "active" on 37 properties in the country.

It was going to be a long process and the only way the farming sector would get through it was if it was united in the fight, whether caught up in the process or not, she said.

Mr O'Connor said he had asked the Ministry for Primary Industries to revisit the compensation process and a new "streamlined" approach had been developed for those whose animals were culled to enable a substantial payment "within a matter of days".

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