New Zealand to spend $600 mln to eradicate cattle disease

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New Zealand is aiming to be the first country in the world to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from its shores after the Government yesterday unveiled an $886 million plan to eliminate the disease.

"Today's decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost. She further added, "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".

If all goes as hoped with the slaughter, New Zealand would be the first country to have registered an infection and successfully remove Mycoplasma bovis from its herds. Though the bacteria poses no threats to food safety, it does cause production losses, as infected cows tend to develop mastitis, severe pneumonia, arthritis and respiratory issues. But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd, " she said. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle. Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis won't be easy, but if we don't try now, we will never get another chance. Both Government and our industry partners want those farmers to know support is there for them.

"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".

"We are here to support those farmers, and have given a commitment that we will, alongside the Ministry and other sector groups, drive down the driveway of every affected farm to give that support", Mr van der Poel says.

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More than 150,000 cows will be slaughtered over the next two years at a cost of NZ$880m (£459m), as the world's biggest dairy exporter attempts to deal with an outbreak of Mycoplasma disease.

Currently, the disease is classified as "active" on 37 properties in the country.

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne said there was no doubt the decision would cause pain and anguish for more farmers.

Importantly, the government promises to improve the compensation claim process. That figure is comprised of $16 million in lost production and $870 million as the cost of response.