The Government has finalised compensation for just three farm businesses out of 31 claims for destroyed cattle affected by the Mycoplasma bovis disease outbreak as Federated Farmers says farmers are feeling financial stress.
Herald inquiries to the Ministry for Primary Industries, which is overseeing the response to the serious disease, reveal the ministry has received 31 compensation claims for livestock destruction, of which three have been paid out in full and five have had partial payments.
Claims go back to the second half of last year and some are from dairy and beef cattle farmers who’ve lost almost their entire annual income from livestock which had to be slaughtered in the bid to contain the contagious bacterial disease.
In an emailed response to Herald questions, MPI director Geoff Gwyn said compensation claims, only for animal destruction, received so far totalled $6.9 million.
Affected farmers under MPI regulatory control cannot sell or move their livestock, which also impacts on their income.
MPI did not answer questions as to how many farmers were still owed compensation or how many animals were involved in compensation claims to date.
Federated Farmers national vice-president Andrew Hoggard said affected farmers were experiencing financial stress with banks refusing to extend them credit.
“MPI has recognised they haven’t been doing a fast enough job. It needs to be faster,” Hoggard said.
“The biggest risk in a biosecurity outbreak is that farmers who put their hands up as being affected go bankrupt and lose everything which says to other farmers to keep it quiet and shoot it [the animal], which is the complete opposite to what we want to achieve.
“That’s why it’s so important to make it [compensation] quick and fast.”
MPI has recently ordered the destruction of another 22,000-plus, mostly dairy, cattle on properties infected by Mbovis, in an attempt to contain the highly debilitating cattle disease, identified mid-last year on a South Island property.
MPI believes the disease, which is established in the herds of New Zealand’s trading partners, is not yet well-established here.
Meanwhile, MPI said beef properties have been implicated in the outbreak and cattle slaughtered as a result.
Four properties – two in Waimate/Waitaki in the South Island and one each in Otago and Southland – had been confirmed as being infected.
Cattle on them had tested positive for Mbovis. Some of the cattle had been destroyed for “diagnostic” purposes to help MPI establish the location of the disease, and some on infected properties would be culled under MPI’s mass slaughter programme, to be completed before June 1, the start of the new dairy season.
MPI would not say how many beef cattle were involved but the number was small. The cattle were identified as part of the tracing of cattle from known infected Mbovis properties, not through any beef industry surveillance, MPI said.
Source: NZ Herald