New Zealand to spend $600 million to eradicate cattle disease

Faith Castro
May 30, 2018

New Zealand will kill over 1,50,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis infection caused by the bovine. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she believes it's still possible to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products.

Arden herself said she empathizes with the farmers who will have to undergo having all their cows slaughtered, but the government and cattle industry are in agreement that the long-term consequences of letting the disease spread far outweighs any incurred losses with the eradication plan.

However, many healthy cattle will also be killed in the cull.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", she said.

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Since it was first discovered, 26,000 cows have been culled, and the disease is classified as "active" on 37 properties.

Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group "Federated Farmers", emphasised the support that will be needed for farmers, however, failed to mention the 150,000 cows that will be slaughtered. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.

The authorities plan to implement most of the plan over the next two years, with 68% of the cost being borne by the New Zealand government and 32% by DairyNZ and Beef&Lamb New Zealand.

They say it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and, if successful, would be the first time an infected country has eliminated Mycoplasma bovis. That's more than two cows per person in the country. It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling. "The majority of animals that we do cull in New Zealand are all healthy", said Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

An investigation into how Mycoplasma bovis got into the country is still underway.

It is unclear whether she made any mention of the 150,000 cows set to die as part of the eradication attempt.

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