Some Mid-Canterbury farmers are having their stock culled for the second time as the Ministry for Primary Industries attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.
From next month, MPI will begin the process of culling infected lifestock] at the massive Five Star Beef ANZCO feedlot near Ashburton.
M bovis was first detected on the feedlot, which houses about 12,000 cattle, about four years ago.
In May, the government announced the infection had been contained to that property, but since then, two more properties have tested positive.
As it’s unclear how the infection has continued to spread, MPI yesterday announced the feedlot and eight nearby farms will be cleared as a precaution.
A further six farms in the at-risk area around the feedlot will undergo increased testing.
Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy chair Nick Giera said for some farmers in the region it would be the second time their farms have been cleared.
“It is really tough for those farmers, but overall as an industry, we’re getting to the very end of this programme and it’s really important as an industry that we can be relatively disease-free,” he said.
Giera said the eradication programme was necessary to protect New Zealand’s trade reputation.
“It’s important for our reputation as having high standards for animal welfare in overseas markets,” he said.
“So it is tough on those farmers but overall, the benefits are huge if we can eradicate it and we have continued access to valuable markets”
Giera said the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting turbulence in the economy over the last few years showed how important primary industries were for keeping New Zealand’s economy afloat.
“It we want to continue to enjoy our relatively high standards of living, then these are the things that we have to do as a country.”
Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Acland told Morning Report the mass culling was the always on the cards for the programme and it would not result in a rush at meat processors, as the Five Star Beef group used its own processor.
“It is very planned and this planning has been going on for the two years,” he said.
“It’s a very thought-out very process. It is tough on those farms and my thoughts go out to those farmers around the the feed lot that are going to also be depopulated, it is very tough on those properties.”
Acland hoped the mass culling would see M. bovis gone for good.
“The programme’s been very successful to date, so hopefully the success continues,” he said.
“My understanding is the infection modelling is on the trajectory that was predicted, so if they get this right then they should have success, touch wood.”
Support networks for affected farmers have improved since the earlier days of the outbreak, Acland said.
MPI’s M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew said there has been no confirmed infections outside of the Mid-Canterbury areas since July 2020.
“Our extensive nationwide surveillance will continue for several years as we move to the proof of absence phase,” he said.
“Our bulk milk test programme is going well, with no unexpected finds in recent months. August 2022 is on track to be the first August since 2018 with no confirmed infection detected via bulk tank milk surveillance.
“While this is positive, it doesn’t mean the job is done. It is likely that we’ll find more confirmed infection before we declare eradication successful. When we find any infection, we will deal with it.”