M. bovis removal efforts paying off

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TWO years into the Government’s 10-year plan to eradicate cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, only one active Southland property is in quarantine.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said the world-first plan to eradicate the disease was on track.

“Two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand and industry partners made a bold decision to go hard and commit to a 10-year, $880 million programme to eradicate M. bovis to protect our most important sector and the economy.

“Recent events have shown what an important moment this decision was for our economy.”

The Southland property was included in the 17 left in the country; 232 properties had been cleared, 26 of which were in Southland. $150.4 million compensation had been paid and 155,411 animals had been culled.

Mr O’Connor said had the disease been left to “run rampant”, dairy and beef sectors might not have been able to weather the economic storm of Covid-19 as well as the drought conditions many farms were experiencing.

“Beef and dairy export prices have held up. In fact, there was record demand for our meat. In March, total red meat monthly exports topped $1 billion for the first time. This shows that these sectors are well placed to lead us out of this economic crisis.”

The Estimated Dissemination Rate (EDR) showed the success, he said. It was expected the ‘delimiting’ phase would end in 2021. The next seven years would involve surveillance testing.

“If the EDR is greater than one, then the disease is growing. If it’s below one, we’re shrinking the disease… The EDR is now at .4, which is down from over two at the start of the outbreak, so we are looking harder to find fewer infected animals. This tells us that M. bovis is not endemic in our national herd.”

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel said there was no question M. bovis had a huge impact on the sector, particularly those affected farmers and their families.

“While there’s still work to do, farmer feedback has been heard and processes improved. We are seeing more farmer-focused processes and shorter turnaround times for farms under movement restrictions.”

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said farmers deserved a lot of credit for their efforts in helping to free New Zealand of the disease.

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