On TVNZ1’s Q+A this morning, Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor told host Corin Dann, “the culture’s going to change, and there’s going to be enforcement where there’s any blatant disregard for the law”.
Corin Dann with this extended interview with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor
Mr O’Connor said tracking cattle movement has been too relaxed.
“I think the farmers now appreciate that we’re in this boat together, we need good traceability systems, we need a very good biosecurity system, and if we do this together, we’ll have a more robust system.
“There have been failures,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said it was not productive to point fingers, instead he thought “we have to focus on the future”.
The Minister said trading partners had not brought up the Mycoplasma bovis issue with him, however, he said he knows “they’re looking at us”.
“They’ll be asking questions around how we’re handling this. [Eradication] is a bold move, they say, to try and eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.”
When asked by Mr Dann if New Zealand can beat Mycoplasma bovis, Mr O’Connor said: “Yes, we can, and we as a little country have taken on many challenges before. Brucellosis was one in the animal area.”
“We’re focused on eradication of bovine tuberculosis. We’ve done many other things through history. As a nation, we can do this again.”
Watch TVNZ1’s Q+A here.
Corin Dann asked Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor if it was time New Zealand rethought the intensification of dairy farming.
“We’ve made huge increase in both stock numbers and intensification in sensitive areas. We’ve given a clear signal we don’t want that to continue.”
“Yes, there will be growth in cow numbers for some individual farmers, but overall, I think we’ve kind of got to what they might call peak cow,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The cow numbers dropped over the last season, not because of anything this government has done, but we’re giving clear signals that if growth is going to continue, it will be growth and value from what they do, not just getting more from the land, with the environmental impacts of that.”
“We’ve said very clearly that we want water quality to improve. We want to stop any further degradation, and some of that is being impacted by intensification of dairy in farming. We know that.”
“I think the farmers are doing a huge amount, and have been for some years, to try and reduce the impact of that growth.”