New Zealand to kill 150,000 cows to end bacterial disease

31 May, 2018, 22:15 | Author: Kristi Owen
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with representatives of the dairy farming community in the Waikato

The government will try to eradicate the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease that was first detected almost a year ago to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Speaking to affected farmers in recent weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was obvious it had taken a toll, but standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers.

The government will meet 68 percent of the $870 million, or about $592 million, and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 percent, or about $278 million.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said it was believed the outbreak came from one source and that expert advice indicated it was possible to contain and eradicate it. "You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't", said Reymer, who farms near a property recently identified as positive as carrying the Mycoplasma bovis bacteria. 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.

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ. "So if we have an opportunity to be the country that eradicates this disease, then we'll take it".

New Zealand, which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings, aims to eradicate the painful Mycoplasma bovis disease completely.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really disgusting", she said of the affected farmers.


We're calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. Many cows will be be used for beef, however many will end up dumped into landfills.

Mycoplasma bovis has so far been found on 38 farms throughout New Zealand, officials say, a number they expect to rise to at least 142 farms based on computer modeling.

At this time (28 May 2018), the disease is still not widespread (37 infected farms and some 260 suspect farms out of 20,000) and there is just one strain of the disease here.

Cabinet's decision has the support of Federated Farmers and the NZ Veterinary Association, although the former is well aware of the emotional and psychological effect on farmers.

The estimated cost of not acting was $1.3 billion over 10 years.

- An improved compensation claim process.

It has been made clear by the officials that all the cows belonging to an infected farm will be killed even if they are healthy.

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