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Government announcement on Mp. bovis

28 May 2018
Today the Government announced that it will be attempting phased eradication of Mycoplasma bovis (Mp. bovis) from New Zealand.

This was a difficult decision made collectively by the Government and the industry including Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

We’re well aware of the stress and uncertainty that farmers and rural communities have faced over the past year, as well as the challenging times that lie ahead too.

Throughout this process, B+LNZ has strongly advocated for the best outcome for our farmers as well as supporting our partners in the wider pastoral sector. While we acknowledge that today’s decision isn’t the one that some may have been hoping for, it is one that has been made with the best long-term interests of the wider pastoral sector in mind.

New Zealand has one chance and only a short window to attempt to eradicate Mp. bovis.

For Beef + Lamb New Zealand, it is fundamentally important in a close decision like this that we have the opportunity to review the phased eradication approach at defined trigger points to ensure the course we are following makes sense.

As the phased eradication programme goes ahead, B+LNZ will work with Government to ensure there is ample support for farmers impacted both directly and indirectly by the disease and to minimise disruption to our industry.

We will be lifting our support for the Rural Support Trust to aid farmers, and we will also be continuing to provide practical on-farm solutions to help you manage the specific biosecurity risks associated with Mp. bovis.



What does this mean for your farm?

Initially the response will be much the same as what we are seeing now, with intensive active surveillance, including testing and tracing, continuing in order to detect infected herds.

If you have bought or received grazing cattle or calves from a farm with Mp. bovis there is a risk you will be put under movement restrictions and subject to testing. There is advice on the B+LNZ website about how to manage the risk of bringing cattle and calves onto your property. But if you have kept your cattle separate and kept good records then it will be easier for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to determine if your cattle have been infected or not. More advice on what this looks like in practical terms will be provided by MPI within the coming days.

If your herd has, or does test positive, for Mp. bovis it does mean that these cattle will be culled.

The Ministry for Primary Industries currently estimates that around 152,000 cattle (from an expected 192 infected properties) will be culled over the next 10 years, with most culled in the first 1-2 years. That’s about one percent of the national beef and dairy herd. The phased eradication programme will also require surveillance for a number of years beyond this.

In addition, following depopulation, an infected farm will be disinfected and lie fallow for 60 days (post depopulation) to ensure it is free of Mp. bovis, after which they can be restocked.

MPI has committed to there being some flexibility around the timing of depopulation to offset production losses.

Where Mp. bovis has been detected or suspected, it will also mean biosecurity restrictions including movement controls. This can last some weeks.



How much will this cost and how will it be collected?

MPI estimates that the cost for phased eradication over 10 years will be approximately $886 million, with the dairy and beef industries contributing 32 percent ($278 million) of this cost.

We are in discussions with the dairy industry about what our sector’s contribution will be. This is being worked through under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) framework as mandated by farmers, but we expect the beef industry’s contribution to be very small due to the relative value of the industries involved and because the impact on beef production is expected to be limited.

Once determined, we anticipate the beef industry’s contribution will ultimately be collected by a biosecurity levy under the Biosecurity Act (1993), as signaled in B+LNZ’s recent consultation seeking a mandate to join GIA.



What is being done to support and compensate farmers?

Compensation is available for anyone who sustains verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mp. bovis. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 4 to 10 days of a completed claim being lodged. MPI is also continuing to scale up its compensation team to speed up the process of claims.

We encourage farmers to keep comprehensive records in order to make the processing of any compensation claims as quick as possible.

B+LNZ is lifting the assistance we provide to the Rural Support Trust so they can increase the help they provide to our farmers, and we are increasing our support activities including practical on farm advice to manage biosecurity risks specific to Mp. bovis. We are working with government to source the significant number of additional personnel that will be needed to pursue phased eradication.

B+LNZ will also be urging the Government and industry partners to fast-track improvements to NAIT and the introduction of electronic Animal Status Declarations (eASDs) which we know are critical tools for improving traceability in our industry.



What further information is available?

We will be continually updating the information on the B+LNZ website http://www.beeflambnz.com/mycoplasma-bovis. MPI’s website (www.mpi.govt.nz) and DairyNZ’s website (www.dairynz.co.nz) also provide useful information on Mp. bovis, and MPI also has a team available to specifically answer questions on Mp. bovis on 0800 00 83 33.

MPI will also be leading a comprehensive series of meetings across the country over the coming weeks which we encourage all farmers to attend and we will share details of these meetings as soon as they are available. B+LNZ is also running biosecurity risk-management workshops around the country and we will provide information on these.

If you have any questions, please contact your local farm extension team, or our B+LNZ Mp. bovis support specialist Paul McCauley at Paul.McCauley@beeflambnz.com or mob. 027 522 3499.