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Farmers urged to have say on proposed M. bovis plan
An old map of properties with either with active confirmed cases of Mycoplasma bovis (black) or under a Notice of Direction (blue). Photo: Supplied/MPI

Farmers are being encouraged to have their say on a proposal to move the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme into a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) as it moves to a new phase.

M. bovis governance group chair Kelvan Smith says eradication partners – DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb New Zealand, and the Ministry for Primary Industries – are seeking farmers’ views on the NPMP.

“With no active confirmed infection in New Zealand we have made good progress, but it hasn’t been easy getting here. The three partners recognise this and want to ensure that the ongoing activity causes minimal disruption to farmers.”

OSPRI has been nominated as the management agency for the NPMP proposal.

Smith claims that with natural synergies in running the M. bovis programme alongside NAIT and the TBFree plan, there is potential for up to $15m in savings across the three programmes.

“We all know how crucial the NAIT system is for the timely tracing of cattle that may have been in contact with infected cattle. The programme can achieve efficiencies by aligning some aspects of M. bovis testing alongside TB testing,” he adds.

“By combining resources and capability, it will allow the programme to continue to adapt and help strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system.”

Smith says the efforts and sacrifices of farmers cannot be overstated and the improvements in on-farm biosecurity is heartening. He adds that farmers have been significantly impacted by M. bovis but have also played a key role in the programme making the progress it has. “The current administrative model has worked well, providing the necessary support and resources to get us to where we are now,” he adds. “With the next few years focused on background surveillance, a different model, and some different capability, is required to ensure we are getting the best value for the taxpayer and farmer levy payers.”

While it is expected farmers and rural groups directly affected by M. bovis will notice very little difference under the proposed model, programme partners are seeking feedback on some key changes including:

  • Establishment of a National Plan, with OSPRI appointed as the agency to administer the programme and manage disease to achieve eradication.
  • Formalising disease control activities through a set of 15 rules to support the eradication objective.
  • New reduced National Plan levy to finance the remainder of the programme.

“The NPMP is open for consultation and we want to ensure we end up with a model that works for everyone, especially farmers who are most impacted by M. bovis,” Smith says.

“While there is currently no known active infection, it is possible more will be identified before we can declare the job is done and the proposal includes contingency arrangements for OSPRI to eradicate any small numbers of cases of infection subsequently identified in future.”

Feedback on the draft proposal is being sought from those who play an important part in the eradication effort including farmers, meat and dairy processors, testing labs, and vets. Public consultation runs from 14 August to 25 September.

“We believe our proposal will ensure the programme continues to adapt to the work that remains ahead and make the most of the significant gains made todate. We look forward to reviewing the feedback from the consultation.”

The full NPMP proposal and more information including how to make a submission can be found on the MPI website Administration of the Mycoplasma bovis Eradication Programme . Submissions can be made online or through post.

M. bovis Programme Numbers, August 2023

  • Active Confirmed Properties – 0
  • Cleared Confirmed Properties – 280
  • Notices of diection (NOD) applied to propertie – 2674
  • Tests completed – 3,288,732
  • Compensation – total paid – $256.2 million
  • Compensation claims paid – 2901

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