A Northland farmer is backing the Government's decision to cull nearly 150,000 cattle, in a "one shot" attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis and protect the national herd.
The disease has been found on 38 farms in New Zealand so far, and it's because of it's relatively low numbers, affecting less than one percent of dairy farms, that eradication is highly possible according to DairyNZ Chairman Jim van der Poel.
The decision was taken collectively by Government and farming sector bodies after months of intense modelling and analysis to understand the likely impacts of the disease, the potential spread and the costs and benefits of eradication versus other actions. 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. The bacteria is not a threat to humans, but can cause production delays on farms.
"Today's decision to eradicate is driven by the Government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy - the farming sector", Ardern said. 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. "So if we have an opportunity to be the country that eradicates this disease, then we'll take it".
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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she did not want to end up in a situation where she looked back and said "I could have tried harder". "We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate and more than 99% of farms don't have it and we want to protect them from having it". "Today's move reflects how important the success of the dairy and beef industries is to the prosperity of all New Zealanders", Jacinda Ardern said.
Although many cows are expected to be killed at processing plants and be used for beef, some may have to be killed and buried on farms or in specified landfills, AP reported. "And we have to support them as neighbors, community members, farmers, friends". This means more skilled people will be able to work directly with affected farmers.
Importantly, the government promises to improve the compensation claim process.
Long-term management has a projected cost of $1.2 billion.