OFFICIALS in New Zealand have confirmed that a cull of over 22,000 cattle infected with the Mycoplasma bovis disease has commenced.
The cull, said to be costing in the region of $60 million, was announced by New Zealand’s Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor.
Farmers from 28 properties in Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury, Otago and Southland have cattle that must be killed in order to prevent further spread of the disease, and will be compensated. The country is one of only a handful left in the world not to be affected by Mycoplasma bovis – and the hope is that the ruthless cull program will keep it that way.
Minister O’Connor said: “We need to reduce the risk of any spread of this infection throughout the country. Under the Biosecurity Act, farmers from infected properties will be entitled to compensation, which could cost $60 million.”
He added that the Ministry for Primary Industries has shelled out over $35 million so far on operating costs for investigating and stopping the disease spreading.
However, he highlighted that ongoing costs of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis fully from New Zealand had yet to be fully calculated: “There will be fair compensation for farmers. Every animal is priced differently, with different production potential, so there is a process to go through.
“Everyone across New Zealand can understand how incredibly difficult it is for these farmers to lose their herds. Many of these animals will be known individually. While we still have challenges ahead in managing this outbreak, these families can move forward with their farms and lives,” Minister O’Connor said.
Cattle movements are being blamed for the rapid spread of Mycoplasma bovis in the country. Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said the cull was a relief for all farmers: “Their determination to do the best we can to get rid of it should be acknowledged by all farmers,” she said, stressing that families affected by the cull should be offered as much support as possible.
FFNZ vice chair and dairy farmer, Wayne Langford, added: “As a farmer it’s disappointing to see such a big loss of stock – but in terms of the long-term benefit it should be good for New Zealand.”
While the loss of 22,000 cows sounded like a lot, New Zealand had 20 million total between its dairy and cattle herds, so it was a small percentage in the overall scheme of things.
Mr Langford noted that the 28 farms involved were related to each other: “They’ve had stock movements between properties. It’s not a wide spread of the disease, which is one positive.”
Source: The Scottish Farmer