New Zealand to spend $600 million to eradicate cattle disease

One of the big challenges with Mycoplasma bovis is the ability to test for it. Often the disease can hide in the animal

One of the big challenges with Mycoplasma bovis is the ability to test for it. Often the disease can hide in the animal

Tuffley said that in rough terms, a 30c lift in the milk price would offset the loss in revenue suffered from lower production. "Let's take this window while we have it, as we will never have this opportunity again".

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: "This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls".

Long-term management has a projected cost of $1.2 billion.

Ms Ardern said the decision was made "to protect our national herd and the longterm productivity of our economic decision".

"As a rural community, we need to get in behind people a lot better, " Mrs Hunt said.

The government will meet 68% of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest, the New Zealand Herald reports.

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There is a positive in the fact the disease has no trade implications or effect on humans, but it does cast the spectre of what a disaster it would be if foot and mouth or mad cow disease was to slip through New Zealand's biological defences.

The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit.

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products.

As at May 28 there are 37 infected farms and some 260 suspect farms. These include maintaining up-to-date NAIT movement records, understanding herd health history, and using good on-farm biosecurity measures.

"But industry has always, from the beginning of this, been committed to working with the government to eradicate, if the science said it was feasible", she says.

The recently cropped-up bacteria strain has been found on 38 New Zealand farms thus far and, according to officials, is expected to spread.

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"Today's decision will provide some certainty, but at the same time will be terribly painful for those farmers who are directly affected". "Over 99 per cent of our dairy herds in New Zealand have no signs of this disease, and we want to keep it that way".

O'Connor said it was important all farmers showed a collective responsibility for the sake of the wider sector and get on board with the eradication plan.

However, he thought the estimated cost of $886 million was "massively conservative". "Everyone down here has been reasonably keen to manage it instead of eradication drive".

Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July previous year, and manifests in mastitis in cows, severe pneumonia, ear infections and other symptoms.

Politicians and industry leaders announced the ambitious plan today.

"Nothing prepares you for seeing the hard details and seeing the scale of it". We don't even know who all those families are yet.

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