Government announces "phased eradication" of M. bovis by Thomas Coughlan

Glen Mclaughlin
May 30, 2018

Cabinet's decision to opt for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is a bold one and probably the right one, but will involve a lot of anguish and pain for farmers and must be closely scrutinised right through the programme.

About 126,000 cows are expected to be culled, mainly over the next two years, as government and industry work to depopulate all infected farms, the government said in a statement.

The bacteria, Mycoplasma bovis, can cause cows to develop ailments such as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

Announcing the largest cull in the nation's history yesterday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said that while she sympathised with farmers, the government had "one shot" at eliminating the disease.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really ugly", she said of the affected farmers. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

Farming is a major part of New Zealand's economy and the country is the world's largest exporter of dairy.

Around 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months.

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The decision, dubbed "phased eradication", was made collectively by the government and farming sector bodies and the estimated cost is $886 million over 10 years.

The slaughter represents only a fraction of New Zealand stock, a herd of 10 million cattle in more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms.

Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late.

"Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers", she said.

Many healthy cows will also be killed.

"He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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