Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is still on the table, but farmers still need reassurances, says National Party primary industries spokesman Nathan Guy.
By: BRITTANY PICKETT
Guy said farmers were feeling like there was not a coherent plan in place to stop the cattle disease.
He was concerned the Government could not disclose how much money it was prepared to contribute to fully eliminate M. bovis.
“It’s my understanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is canvassing the dairy and red meat industry for contributions to fund the response and eradication of this disease,” said Guy at the Southern Field Days last week..
Farmers were anxious that information flows did not seem to be as quick as they needed to be, Guy said. They needed some certainty while organising winter contracts and preparing to move stock at the end of the season, he said.
Guy said Southland farmers were already feeling added pressure from the drought, and while it had rained, they were still concerned about ensuring they had enough feed for winter.
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said farmers should be anxious, however, there would be no concrete plan for dealing with the disease until more information was available.
Eradicating the disease would be an expensive undertaking and plans needed to be fully formed in order for it to be effective, he said.
“We’re not going to rush plans for political reasons or otherwise.”
O’Connor indicated last week that eliminating M.bovis remained a viable option, after the initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms were received.
He confirmed in Parliament that 23 properties are infected, 38 are restricted and 1500 are considered ‘trace’ properties.
The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections.
Tests have been completed on tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week.
“This is a good result and gives us confidence we are on the right track as we hunt down this disease,” O’Connor said.
In addition to the milk testing, MPI is working with urgency to build a complete picture of the scale and location of the disease in New Zealand to fully inform whether eradication from the country is feasible and economically viable.
This work includes boosting on-farm blood testing teams.
The effort to date has exposed one significant ‘hub’ of infection in Southland. MPI’s tracing programme has been made more difficult because there appears to have been a lot of un-recorded movement of young calves around this hub.
MPI will shortly start a public campaign encouraging farmers to report any at-risk animal movements that are not captured in recording systems such as NAIT.