New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease
31 May, 2018, 22:12 | Author: Courtney Reynolds
New Zealand will slaughter more than 100,000 cows in an effort to eradicate a bacterial disease.
"This is a tough call", said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The New Zealand government is expected to foot two-thirds of the hefty $560 million tab, while the cattle industry will pay the remainder.
Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to cull 126,000 cows and spend more than NZ$800m ($560m) over 10 years in an attempt to save the national dairy herd and protect the long-term productivity of the farming sector, which is New Zealand's second biggest export earner.
The decision was taken collectively by Government and farming sector bodies after months of intense modelling and analysis to understand the likely impacts of the disease, the potential spread and the costs and benefits of eradication versus other actions.
"Speaking with affected farmers in recent weeks it is obvious that this has taken a toll, but standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers". "I think what we are doing here is having the best shot at eradication" and noted that if the country doesn't try immediately eradication will be off the table. The bacteria is not a threat to humans, but can cause production delays on farms. "So if we have an opportunity to be the country that eradicates this disease, then we'll take it".
"And we have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends".
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"Our borders in particular make it possible, we do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate, more than 99 per cent of farms do not have it, we want to protect them from having it".
It was going to be a long process and the only way the farming sector would get through it was if it was united in the fight, whether caught up in the process or not, she said. Of those, 37 are active infected properties.
"It won't work without farmer support".
Mr O'Connor said he had asked the Ministry for Primary Industries to revisit the compensation process and a new "streamlined" approach had been developed for those whose animals were culled to enable a substantial payment "within a matter of days".
The estimated cost of not acting was $1.3 billion over 10 years. That figure is comprised of $16 million in lost production and $870 million as the cost of response.
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